Several years ago, Provincial Road 227 was being groomed to become Highway 16A for those who travel northwest across the country, from the perspective of the Trans Canada Highway. The recent announcement to upgrade 227 will hopefully bring that original plan to reality. 

MLA for Lakeside Ralph Eichler was present at Marquette when the announcement was made by Minister Doyle Piwniuk this past Tuesday. 

"This ties into the whole infrastructure plan, mainly focusing on making this 16A," notes Eichler. "I think it's really important that people understand this is not only for a trade corridor, but for transportation, for people getting their stuff, goods and services, and, of course, a number of people from my area -- Stonewall and Stony Mountain -- use this route to go to Edmonton."

He explains this brings safety concerns into the picture as well as the safety of time, and takes some of the pressure off the #1 highway, too.

"It's a good news story," continues Eichler. "It's been a long time coming. I remember the conversations even back in the '80s and '90s. It was promised many, many times but never got done. So, we're going to get this thing done this time, and you can tell, by the number of people here, how important it is for them and their community. I'm really excited that our government was able to make the commitment to pave this road and get it done."

Eichler outlines the impact of making this highway into the 16A route.

"When Premier Howard Pawley was in power and he built this bridge to nowhere in Selkirk, nobody could figure out why this bridge was so important," says Eichler. "It really is important. If you think about what 16A would look like -- when you think about Whitemouth, Beausejour, Stonewall, Selkirk, and Warren -- all of these communities will have an impact once this road's done because it's going to increase traffic. There'll be some naysayers not wanting the extra traffic, but I think the safety of it and the overall availability of people to be able to travel and use this route going north, is critically important."

He notes he's particularly excited for this opportunity for the people and for the Province of Manitoba to grow and prosper. 

Eichler explains that bringing a 16A designation to the highway requires the federal government to come on board with the idea.

"They were on side with the plan when they originally purchased the land," adds Eichler. "That was the whole idea behind it, and that's why it's so critically important. Local MP James Bezan is also very much involved with this and he's been advocating for this road, as well, since he was elected. That was 18 years ago for James, and I've been involved 19 years. So, it's been a long time coming."