The project went from Highway 322 just north of the Glen Harbour access road to Highway 220 junction and into popular Rowan’s Ravine Provincial Park.
Paving improvements inside Rowan’s Ravine included paving the Underwood campground loops, boat launch and day-use parking lot.
Despite some initial bumps in the road with the RM of McKillop over gravel extraction, the project has finished on time.
On hand for the ribbon-cutting was the Minister of Highways Fred Bradshaw, Last Mountain-Touchwood MLA Travis Keisig, ASL Paving Ltd. Vice-President James Fraser and RM of McKillop Reeve Bob Schmidt.
“Highways 322 and 220 are essential gateways to those traveling to Rowan’s Ravine and the surrounding area,” Highways Minister Fred Bradshaw said. “These improvements keep our roads safe so that families and visitors can enjoy their time in our parks.”
Minister Bradshaw thanked the paving contractor ASL Paving Ltd “they have done a great job and thank you very much for the wonderful work that you’ve done.”
Bradshaw said the government would continue to look at improving the Provincial Parks and the access to them. He also acknowledged the many regional parks in the Province that need good access, which he said people need and expect. “We are on the route to grow Saskatchewan. We want to see Saskatchewan growing. To have Saskatchewan growing we need to think of the safety of our roads. We also have to think of the access and the benefits to all of our people that live in the Province.”
MLA Travis Keisig, “COVID has shown us the best place, the healthiest place is outdoors, and no place has a better outdoors than Saskatchewan’s Provincial Parks. The reality is no matter how beautiful a provincial park is you need proper infrastructure to access it. This project will provide years of service to locals and visitors alike. We have more work to do, I’m totally aware of that. But today is the day that we celebrate the grand opening of Highway 322 and 220.”
RM of McKillop Reeve Bob Schmidt said because the Highway is the main thoroughfare and access point to the RM, “having it completed is what everybody wanted. It’s good for the community.”
James Fraser, Vice-President of ASL Paving Ltd, “We are really proud to be a part of this project from Highways. We have an office in Regina, and we are super happy to do a project within the proximity of Regina. And the Regina residents and the surrounding area can enjoy and come to the Provincial Park, and our crews did a wonderful job. This is a big project for us this year under fairly tight timelines to get it done and our crews did a remarkable job of getting it completed prior to the end of the year and we are really proud of that.”
Mark and Marcia Strong own Rowan’s Ridge Seasonal RV Resort outside Rowan’s Ravine gates on Highway 322. Their Facebook page posted, “So exciting!!! Such a beautiful, smooth drive now! Worth the wait.”
Mark Strong said that “there was a whole time of avoidance of the area because of the road.” Strong said that is because people’s vehicles and boats are more expensive, “There are some people who simply won’t drive a grid road.” He said the more people know that the Highway is paved right into the park, the faster it would bring people back.
Strong said that while the paving is good for people driving from Regina, he would like to see the Highway work go even further. “It would be awesome if the 220 would get paved back to Bulyea like it originally was. Because there are people that come down from the north as well and this way, they have to go all the way to Silton.”
Michelle Gotch, the owner of Mama Bear’s Den inside Rowan’s Ravine, said, “it’s awesome to have a paved road all the way to a Provincial Park.” Gotch’s comments mirrored Mark Strong’s comment about the need to pave the rest of the Highway from the junction to highway 20. She also says that there isn’t any signage directing people to Rowan’s from Silton up Highway 322 and that the only signage is on highway 20, placing people onto the unpaved portion of the road.
Gotch’s business was very busy this year, serving ice cream and bannock burgers. She jokingly says she is scared for what’s going to happen next summer as she anticipates her business will be even busier as people who have been avoiding the road will want to take the drive up.
Steve Mazurak, former Roughrider and Mayor of Pelican Point, complimented the Province and the Ministry. “We see Rowan’s Ravine as a great destination point both on the Highway and on the water. And so anything that happens in our neighbourhood from the Department of Highways and the Ministry is a good thing.”
Minister Bradshaw finished by reminding people of the Saskatchewan Roughriders game on Saturday with, “Go Riders!”
Jennifer Argue, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Last Mountain Times