Is there nothing so rare or sacred that it can escape an engineer’s frantic push to pave paradise?
Society recently commemorated the 120th anniversary of the Frank Slide, a rock avalanche that cascaded from the eastern face of Turtle Mountain and claimed the lives of more than 90 known victims. The Frank Slide, North America’s deadliest rockslide, is internationally known and studied.
Towering over the Frank Slide, Turtle Mountain, structurally unstable, is forecast to produce a second rockslide. When will this occur? No one knows. This future rockslide has the potential to cross the Canadian Pacific Railway and Highway 3.
The sight of Turtle Mountain and the Frank Slide provides motorists with an awe-inspiring vista and a still-in-motion story that causes them to slow down. Countless millions have stopped at the existing highway pullouts, and millions more have taken in the view from the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre, a facility offering a bird’s-eye perspective of the Frank Slide and Turtle Mountain.
This world-revered viewscape and its sea of fractured tombstones is now threatened by plans for a twinned superhighway that, if built, would destroy the visible core of the Frank Slide and transform Highway 3 into a virtual racetrack with a high-speed exit ramp into British Columbia. The cost: hundreds of millions.
Nearly 50 years ago, the Government of Alberta enacted legislation to protect the integrity of the Frank Slide from degradation and development. Today, the Government of Alberta is poised to violate its own legislation, to desecrate what it once protected and held in honour, to dig up the dead in the name of progress.
This cannot be allowed to happen. If the Government of Alberta is not prepared to honour its own legislation, the people of Alberta need to elect a government that will.
Monica Field and David McIntyre
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