Skip to main content

'We feel neglected': Cumberland House calls on government officials to see the road for themselves


Residents of a remote village in Northern Saskatchewan are calling on government officials to visit their community and see their road conditions first hand.

Highway 123 is the only road to and from Cumberland House, a community about 450 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon.

“There’s only one way in and one way out of our community, and there's no alternative but to travel our highway,” Cumberland House mayor Ferlin McKay told CTV News on Monday.

McKay said the village and Cumberland House Cree Nation declared a state of emergency last week, because trucks hauling food and fuel can’t use the road, and residents can’t leave the community to access other services.

“It’s sad, it's disheartening, and we feel neglected,” Deputy Mayor Veronica Favel said.

Favel told CTV News the local convenience store has flown in groceries, while two people were taken by air ambulance, because the local ambulance service can’t take the highway.

She said Cumberland House is Saskatchewan’s oldest settlement and believes it should be a hub for tourism.

“It's keeping the community from thriving, the way that these leaders would like to see for their community,” NDP leader Carla Beck told media at a press conference on Wednesday.

Beck is urging the provincial government to deploy resources and road builders to the highway. Cumberland MLA Doyle Vermette invited Premier Scott Moe to drive on the road himself.

“I've been up that route, not this spring, but I have been up that route,” Moe told reporters Monday. “It's not the best road and it certainly isn't with the rainfall that we've been having this spring.”

He did not indicate whether or not he plans to drive on the road this spring.

Mayor McKay said he invited Highways Minister Lori Carr to the community, but said he was disappointed when she opted to do a virtual meeting instead.

“Given the urgency of the situation, the Minister wanted to meet sooner rather than later and virtual was the best option given her schedule. The Minister plans on visiting the community on June 10 and looks forward to the discussion,” the Ministry of Highways said in a statement to CTV News.

Moe said the province plans to spend $3.3 million on fixing the road this summer.

“We’ll get the investment and get the road stabilized this summer, and have a little broader conversation about what is a long term investment into that road and I think some other northern roads,” Moe said.

Favel said the community won’t stop advocating until a long term solution is reached.

“We don't want to hear our grandkids and our great grandkids talking about this.” Top Stories

Stay Connected