May 26, 2019

Winnipeg
13° C, Partly cloudy

Full Forecast

Government flushes away political capital by closing rest stop

Editorial

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/5/2018 (368 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

As budget-cutting decisions go, this announcement falls somewhere in the territory between “puzzling” and “absurd.”

Actually, calling it an announcement is a bit misleading; rather, it’s a cost-saving measure the provincial government seems to have intended to implement with as little notice as possible, at a time when most people might not realize it was happening until after it had taken place.

Local media only became aware of the plan to shut down the Pinegrove rest area — the only public washroom facility on the Trans-Canada Highway between Winnipeg and the Ontario border — after a food-truck operator who has been stationed at the stop for many years made it known that he won’t return this year because the province informed him Pinegrove is being closed permanently.

Crown Services Minister Ron Schuler confirmed Tuesday that the province plans to close the Pinegrove rest area this fall. The minister cited the $1.6-million cost of retrofitting the facility’s sewage lagoon — which is nearing the end of its lifespan — as the rationale for the closure. He also insisted that people who travel the highway have made it clear they prefer stopping at restaurants and gas bars that offer services other than rest rooms.

Get the full story.
No credit card required. Cancel anytime.

Join free for 30 days

After that, pay as little as $0.99 per month for the best local news coverage in Manitoba.

 

Already a subscriber?

Log in

Join free for 30 days

 

Already a subscriber?

Log in

Subscribers Log in below to continue reading,
not a subscriber? Create an account to start a 30 day free trial.

Log in Create your account

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Mon to Sat Delivery

Pay

$34.36

per month

  • Includes all benefits of All Access Digital
  • 6-day delivery of our award-winning newspaper
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/5/2018 (368 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

As budget-cutting decisions go, this announcement falls somewhere in the territory between "puzzling" and "absurd."

Actually, calling it an announcement is a bit misleading; rather, it’s a cost-saving measure the provincial government seems to have intended to implement with as little notice as possible, at a time when most people might not realize it was happening until after it had taken place.

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS </p><p>The province is planning to close the Pinegrove rest stop this fall.</p>

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

The province is planning to close the Pinegrove rest stop this fall.

Local media only became aware of the plan to shut down the Pinegrove rest area — the only public washroom facility on the Trans-Canada Highway between Winnipeg and the Ontario border — after a food-truck operator who has been stationed at the stop for many years made it known that he won’t return this year because the province informed him Pinegrove is being closed permanently.

Crown Services Minister Ron Schuler confirmed Tuesday that the province plans to close the Pinegrove rest area this fall. The minister cited the $1.6-million cost of retrofitting the facility’s sewage lagoon — which is nearing the end of its lifespan — as the rationale for the closure. He also insisted that people who travel the highway have made it clear they prefer stopping at restaurants and gas bars that offer services other than rest rooms.

The travelers interviewed at the Pinegrove stop on Tuesday — families, solo motorcyclists, truck drivers and more — would no doubt like to know who those "people" are, because Mr. Schuler’s anecdotal claim about the public not wanting a public-access rest stop seems at odds with their Pinegrove perspectives.

There are several problems with telling travellers to go to a nearby business when they have to go — first, it’s forcing them to a commercial establishment in which they’ll likely be required to spend money before being allowed to use rest-room facilities (if those businesses don’t have "for customers only" signs posted now, it’s almost certain they will once carloads of Pinegrove users start stopping by); second, it assumes that highway travellers only need to answer nature’s call during business hours, or that late-night and early-morning drivers somehow have superior bladder control to that of daytime travellers.

And third, the closure plan ignores the fact rest areas are used for more than washroom breaks; big-rig operators also use the stops to conduct safety checks on their vehicles, or to take necessary stops from driving after long stretches on the Trans-Canada route.

Even for a government intent on cutting costs and improving the province’s fiscal situation, closing the public rest stop on the national highway seems a penny-wise but pound-foolish endeavour.

Compared to other ways in which government departments can spend $1.6 million, maintaining the Pinegrove rest stop is a relative budgetary bargain. And eliminating it will carry political costs that carry far beyond the meagre balance-sheet improvement.

Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler

Having been robbed of the opportunity to quietly close Pinegrove after cottage season, the province is left with the unenviable task of spending the summer defending a decision that will annoy many of the thousands who travel to and from lake getaways on Highway No. 1.

From now until the leaves assume their fall colours, every trip past Pinegrove will prompt comments like, "Hey, that’s the rest stop Pallister’s shutting down." And from autumn until the next provincial election, the refrain will be adapted slightly: "Hey, that’s the rest stop Pallister shut down."

Bad plan. In this case, it’s the ill-considered decision to close the highway rest stop that needs to go.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board.

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

By submitting your comment, you agree to abide by our Community Standards and Moderation Policy. These guidelines were revised effective February 27, 2019. Have a question about our comment forum? Check our frequently asked questions.