August 19th, 2018

Highway 3 plans threaten a historic resource


By Letter to the Editor on June 13, 2018.

The Frank Slide, known around the world, is North America’s most deadly rockslide. It’s a stunning, jaw-dropping memorial for approximately 100 people.

During the 100th anniversary (2003) of the Frank Slide, Frank Slide Interpretive Centre visitors looked down on Highway 3 and witnessed the unthinkable. Industrial equipment was actively bulldozing the designated historic resource they had come to see.

The destruction continued. Incongruously, it occurred at a site where visitors, if found guilty of disturbing the rocks, could be fined $50,000, or imprisoned, or both.

The Frank Slide’s 1977 designation as a Provincial Historic Resource delivered formal protection, thus preserving, for posterity, the site’s cultural and geological significance.

Alberta’s Historical Resources Act stipulates that when a Provincial Historic Resource is altered or destroyed, the minister may restore it, and the Crown can recover the costs.

How did the 2003 destruction to the Frank Slide occur and, more importantly, what can society do to ensure that the site is not further degraded?

A Highway 3 functional planning study is currently in progress. Plans expose the intent to destroy much of the Frank Slide. Proponents envision this: the spending of untold millions to create a twinned highway built in the projected path of another rockslide, the long-forecast “second coming” of Turtle Mountain.

How might society react to the proposed placement of a twinned superhighway through Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Rutherford House or Lougheed House?

Perhaps the most important first question is this: What is the Government of Alberta doing in response to an open plan to violate Alberta’s Historical Resources Act?

David McIntyre

Crowsnest Pass

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3 Responses to “Highway 3 plans threaten a historic resource”

  1. DtDt101 says:

    Could Frank Slide also be considered a memorial/grave site for the many people who lost their lives? I don’t know, just asking. I would hope if that is the case that the AB Government would not allow it to be destroyed for some asphalt.

  2. biff says:

    not sure if the hwy can be bent around the site, to the north, to create another path that would be twinned heading west, while keeping the the present route but twinned going east. another possibility would be to elevate the roadway such that we get 2 lanes above, and the present 2 below. that would have minimal disruption on the site.
    the hwy does need twinning – the several billions klein gave away would best have been used to twin and bring alberta hwys into the modern era. med hat to taber; hwy 5; the road of death up to fort macmurray…would be laughable if it were not for the real and needless pain suffered by too many.

  3. Jersey44 says:

    When you look at the slide on google earth or in other pictures, it is kind of a shame the highway goes thru the rock field. Beside the highway is the train tracks, and there is another road that passes thru it between the highway and the river. However, the train track and some kind of road would have been there first, and that is the natural place for a through way. Widening the highway to twin it will take what, maybe 100 more feet or so? I doubt the actual foot print of the highway amounts to much when compared to the whole of the rock field. I don’t think moving rock is destroying anything, it’s just rock. Would be cool to see the whole mountain and rock field untouched, but the train track has to go there I think, so the highway might as well also. And, ya know, it’s already there. Also think the Gov’t of Alberta is probably involved in this whole process, and wouldn’t be shocked at all to find out a Provincial Historical Resource is being changed a little bit.


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