Out of service barge affects northern community

By paNOW Staff
September 29, 2010 - 2:45pm Updated: September 30, 2010 - 3:26pm


By Angela Hill CKBI News

The barge that takes people and supplies to the community of Wollaston Lake is out of commission and according to locals this isn’t the first time.

“I don’t have a list how many times the barge has been down this spring, summer and fall, but it’s been unreal,” said Rick Hunt, general manager of the Hatchet Lake First Nation’s general store, gas bar and motel.

“Sometimes it seems like people don’t care how tough it is up here to look after the community when these things are going on.”

Hunt says the only other method to get supplies into town is by plane, but that makes everything much more expensive.

The barge breaking down also puts building schedules behind as supplies are delayed.

At this time of year, people are trying to prepare for the winter and get as much equipment and supplies into the community as possible, said Hunt.

“Something has got to give; we need a new barge or two barges. The road is what? Five, 10, 20, years away, I don’t know. It’s slow going and the impact on the community is major,” Hunt said.

Dan Palmer, spokesman with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure, said there are some issues with one of the barge’s newly-installed drives.

The drives were replaced on the aging barge in the spring.

The barge was pulled out of service again Monday morning and Palmer said the ministry doesn’t know when the repairs will be completed.

There is frustration over what Hunt calls a lack of communication from the Ministry regarding the barge being pulled out of service. He said the first nation’s business was not notified.

Palmer said the ministry has a general practice to email interested stakeholders and the rest of the information is available to the public on the highways hotline.

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