Nickel Belt MPP France Gélinas says Alban has been taken off the provincial sign on Highway 69, and she's not happy about it.
Speaking at the Ontario Legislature on Monday, Gélinas said the area is pleased that more of the roadway has been four-laned, but a provincial policy meant drivers are no longer alerted they can stop and get gas and eat in Alban.
“I believe that the Minister of Transportation’s provincial highway signs policy discriminates against small northern communities like Alban in my riding of Nickel Belt,” she said.
“Before the four-laning of Highway 69 — we’re very thankful for it — drivers would see the directional sign that said Alban was only three kilometres off the highway. They would come into town, grab a bite to eat, do some grocery shopping, even spend the night at one of the beautiful lodges like Presqu’lle Cottages or the Beausejour Inn.”
Now, however, the new directional sign off the highway lists Noelville, which is 30 kilometres away, and Sturgeon Falls. That means motorists will think they have to drive at least 30 kilometres before you can buy food or gas.
“RDH Mining, which is an international mining equipment manufacturer, wrote me to say, 'It was hard enough to get customers to find our location as it was. Now, with this omission from the sign to our community, it will be an even greater challenge,'” Gélinas said.
As a result, several groups in town are losing business “because of the made-in-Toronto sign policy that makes no sense.”
But Gordan Rennie, MTO's regional issues and media adviser for the Northeast, said in an email the sign on Highway 69 tells motorists they are approaching the exit for Highway 64 and that highway leads to Noelville and Sturgeon Falls.
“MTO provincial policy is to list only the next major community with traveller services and the control community,” Rennie said.
“The Municipality of French River was presented with the option of Alban or Noelville during planning and they selected Noelville,” Rennie said. “To provide further guidance, the ministry has installed finger board signs at the exit ramp terminal listing Alban."