For more than a year, High Street was the low point of Moose Jaw.
The longstanding eyesore was voted the worst road in Saskatchewan earlier this year. But with Halloween just around the corner, residents say they’re ready to put the nightmare on High Street behind them.
“We’ve gone from being the worst paved road to the best paved road in Saskatchewan,” Mayor Fraser Tolmie quipped at the official re-opening ceremony on Saturday.
The five block water main replacement project was supposed to be completed by November 2017. By the time the city fired the original contractor and finished the work itself, local businesses had taken a major hit.
“We were quite surprised it took so long for things to start,” Floors Now owner Dave O’Bright recalled. “The construction would start, a hole would be dug, and months would go with nothing being done.”
Saturday marks a fresh start for the busy stretch of road.
Balloons dot the sidewalks, city staff BBQ’d burgers, and dozens of residents came out for music and shopping.
Beyond the improved atmosphere, the new road is a game changer for High Street-based first responders.
“We had to reroute to get to calls,” Moose Jaw and District EMS Advance Care Paramedic Paul Litzenberger said. “Seconds matter in these calls. When you go a higher speed and it’s really bumpy with lot of holes you can really wreck ambulances; and it rattles everybody in the back. It’s nice to know everything is safe.”
It also makes a nearby park more accessible for young people.
“It’s gorgeous. Now I’ll have my bike heading over to the bike park and it won’t be bouncing all over the place,” Michael Biggar said.
As for the businesses, life is returning to normal.
“We’ve seen quite a difference in sales and just the traffic has been great,” Water Vision owner Don MacKenzie said.
“You’ve got to look at it as a bump in the road for us businesses. It was a tough one to battle through, but us owners who know what we’re doing and kept our stores alive are relieved and happy.”
Proving even some horror stories can have a happy ending.