The Mayor of Westbourne held a meeting in the community hall Wednesday night in response to public outcry against provincial plans to overhaul the entrance into town from Highway 16.  Daryl Shipman says it was an information night.

He notes Manitoba Transportation and Infrastructure representatives were there to provide drawings and designs for the planned access for people to view.

"It was just to inform the residents of Westbourne what the provincial plan is for changing the access into town and changing the curves on the highway on the east and west side of their community," says Shipman. "It was just so people have more visibility. They're adjusting the highways and turning lanes to allow ease of access into town and going south. That's going to influence some of the roads in town, traffic flow, and stuff like that."

MayorMayor Daryl Shipman

He notes some of the impacts that people aren't happy with include how much of the traffic will be going through town on different roads, noting some of that will be big machinery. 

"We have a lot of areas up north that take a lot of campers," continues Shipman. "That way, one of the main roads is also cut off in a catchment for our school children in the area when the town is flooding, which happens just about every spring. That'll be on the same road when the busy time of the farmers and machinery are going through. So, there's going to be more traffic and more congestion there. It was about little things like that."

He notes the changes could impact some of the drainage in the town. All in all, Shipman says, change is the biggest concern.

"It'll be an imposition," adds Shipman. "It's something for people to get used to if it goes through. There were concerns that people never had a chance to express and hear what was going on. So that's why we called the meeting."

Shipman says the province's engineers are making these plans due to highway safety issues, which they're also doing across the rest of the province.

"They decide on which roads could be improved to increase safety, overall, for highway traffic and residents by smoothing out the curves on each end, and giving greater visibility farther away before you turn into town or away from town," says Shipman. "It should decrease any chance of having accidents. There are four or five accesses to #16 highway in a very limited stretch by the town. So, they will reduce that to one. That should give people adequate time to see anything turning in front. That's the premise, from what I understand."

He says change is a process, not an event. Shipman adds they'll see what the community can do in the next short space of time, noting there might also be some things that they can look at.

"Contracts have been awarded and ready, and they're looking on getting started in May," notes Shipman. "So, we've got six weeks to figure out what to do, just who to talk to, and see if there's anything that can be changed. They have some other solutions. We can look at reducing the speed limit through the town area, changing a couple of minor things, you know, which could help make things easier for the townspeople. We'll see what they have to say and we'll collate and then see who we can talk to, and pass the information on, and leave it with the government to decide what works best."

Stay posted for some community reaction to the meeting in an upcoming news story.

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