A view of Highway 63 facing south about 30 km south of Fort McMurray
Credits: VINCENT MCDERMOTT/QMI AGENCY
CALGARY -- A deadly stretch of Hwy. 63 should be twinned now, and energy companies should be on the hook for the pricey project, say a majority of Albertans polled in an exclusive QMI Agency survey.
More than half of people polled by the Toronto-based Forum Research Inc., said that Syncrude, Suncor and other oilsands operators should pay to twin the section of road, which has claimed numerous lives over the years.
Out of the 1,106 Albertans between 18 and 65 surveyed by phone, more than two-thirds (68%) said the province shouldn't wait to move forward with building a parallel highway.
As for who should cover the proect's costs, some 53% said they believe oilsands companies should pay for the twinning, with 32% opposed to the plan and the remaining 14% without an opinion.
Lorne Bozinoff, president of Forum Research, said making the killer highway safe is a critical issue and the numbers from the survey support that.
Almost half (49%) of respondents said it's "extremely important" to twin the highway, 19% described the twinning as "very important," with 22% suggesting it's "somewhat important."
Only 5% said the project as "not very important," 3% said it was "not important at all" and 3% said they don't know.
Half of those polled (50%) support a plan to collect a toll on Hwy. 63 to pay for its twinning, compared to 39% who disagree and 11% that didn't have an opinion.
Bozinoff said the survey showed more mature Albertans tend to disagree with the user-pay concept than younger citizens; a majority of those 45-65 nsuggest oilsands players should cough up the cash.
"I think the user-pay concept is more popular with the younger people because they're more used to it," he said.
"You want to download a song to your iPod, you pay."
Bozinoff said it appears that fixing the problem is more urgent for those living in northern Alberta and the Edmonton area than those living in the southern part of the province.
"I guess the more you know about it and the closer you are to that highway, the more important it is," he said.
By the Numbers:
How important is it that Hwy. 63 be twinned?
49% - extremely important
19% - very important
22% - somewhat important
5% - not very important
3% - not important at all
3% - don't know
Should Suncor, Syncrude and other oilsands companies pay for the twinning?
53% - agree
32% - disagree
14% - don't know
Should toll be collected to pay for Hwy 63 twinning?
50% - approve
39% - disapprove
11% - don't know