An online petition to twin Highway 32 through Winkler has seen a huge response from the community. Mark Klassen is a concerned Winkler resident and feels the 4-laning of the major roadway needs to happen as soon as possible.
"I'm becoming a father very soon," Klassen says. "Just the thought of our son being injured on this highway terrifies both me and my wife. I also know that there are a lot of families in this area that have the same fear. I also believe that twinning the highway would greatly increase Winkler's economy because there would be a better traffic flow in the industry area."
After a number of pleas, Winkler City Council received a letter back from Steve Ashton, Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation, stating "PTH 32 is not currently in the Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation Five-Year Capital Plan." Following the response, Mayor Martin Harder expressed his frustration. "My personal opinion at this point is the community needs to rally behind the city and write directly to the Minister of Transport, Steve Ashton," he said after a Council meeting August 13th. The project has been on hold for nearly 12 years, and Harder is tired of waiting.
"10,000 vehicles is the target for when you need to consider changing it to a four lane," Harder explained. "We're currently sitting at 17,500 and nobody can tell me that we haven't waited long enough."
Klassen had dreamed about launching the petition, and after research and finding a quote from Harder saying citizens needed to step up and voice their concerns, he was inspired to make that a reality. "I found a quote from our Mayor, Martin Harder, that said 'if we have someone who really wanted to get serious about the campaign, hounding the Minister's office for action, I think that would be very appropriate as well,'" Klassen says. He was not only inspired by Harder's encouragement of Winkler residents to take action, but also the Provincial government's inaction.
"I am actually frustrated with the entire NDP party with this issue," Klassen remarks. "Twinning the highway can only do good for the entire province, and it's hard to believe that a party with the slogan 'Keep on building, don't turn back" can ignore this issue. I think that it's time for them as the NDP party to put their energy into building Manitoba and not finding dirt on anyone who stands in their way."
To sign the petition and send a personal note to Steve Ashton, visit the 4-Lane Highway 32 page on Change.org.