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Pedestrian safety a concern near Hay River health centre, says MLA

The MLA for Hay River North says he’s ‘baffled’ a regional health centre was built in the community without taking pedestrian safety into account.

R.J. Simpson raised his concerns with Public Works and Services Minister – and fellow Hay River MLA – Wally Schumann in the legislature Tuesday.

Simpson says a lack of signal lights, sidewalks and adequate lighting near the Hay River Regional Health Centre off Highway 2 puts pedestrians at risk on a daily basis.

“Everybody who has to walk to the hospital … has to dart across the highway at a point where there are no pedestrian crossing signals, no crosswalk, and not even enough light cast on the highway,” he said.

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“This is a serious public safety concern. For those who don’t drive, can’t get a ride, or can’t afford a cab there is no choice but to walk to get where you’re going.

“In many cases, those people are our elders and often the most frequent users of the healthcare system.”

To make matters worse, Simpson says pedestrians also have to pass over an uncontrolled railway crossing on their way to the new health centre.

He added that lighting was supposed to be installed in the area last fall but has yet to happen.

Minister commits to resolving lighting issue

Schumann, who’s also the territory’s transportation minister, says he’s committed to resolving the lighting issue in the area once the ground thaws.

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In the meantime, his department will install temporary lighting and consider putting up more signage.

“I’ve committed to putting up a temporary lighting system there,” said Schumann, adding that more signage may also be put in place as per the Highway Traffic Act.

There seemed to be some confusion over exactly how much signage is in the area now.

While Schumann believes there’s “a ton of signage in the area”, Simpson insists there’s only two signs alerting drivers to pedestrians.

As far as pedestrian safety near the railway crossing is concerned, Schumann says the Town of Hay River is working with CN Rail to obtain a safe crossing.

The municipal government is also reportedly considering the installation of a sidewalk in the area.

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