Brandt Pellerin spent months recovering from a serious collision on Highway 16 near Lanigan last year (Photo submitted by Glenna Pellerin)

A Martensville school teacher is spearheading a petition to have Highway 16 twinned from Saskatoon to the Manitoba border.

“It’s a very busy, very dangerous highway,” said Glenna Pellerin. “The Yellowhead is a major artery from Winnipeg to Edmonton.

“In Saskatchewan it’s twinned from Saskatoon west to the Alberta border; but east of Saskatoon it’s still basically single-lane. That needs to change, because it’s an extremely busy highway with a lot of big trucks, and it’s just going to get busier in the years to come, particularly with the expansion of the potash mines.”

Pellerin’s 25-year-old son, Brandt, was seriously injured in a two-vehicle head-on collision on August 1, 2022 near Lanigan. The passenger in Brandt’s vehicle was also seriously hurt.

The driver of the oncoming car involved in that collision was killed.

Brandt was airlifted by STARS to hospital, where he spent five weeks recovering from multiple fractures and undergoing tests. Several more weeks were required for rehabilitation at home before he was able to return to work.

Glenna Pellerin took a leave of absence from her position at Lake Vista School to care for her son.

“On August 1 of last year, our world was turned upside down,” she said. “People have been very kind to us, and I can’t thank them enough. Since last summer I’ve been focused on helping my son recover.

“Brandt was on his way to work at his dream job. He’s back at work, but it’s difficult. When something like that happens, it’s life-changing.”

Over the last couple months, Pellerin has concentrated her energies on preventing similar tragedies. She’s hoping the provincial and federal governments will take proactive measures to reduce serious collisions by twinning Highway 16 in eastern Saskatchewan.

Pellerin has prepared an official petition to present to the provincial Legislature.

Pellerin is looking to have the petition available for signing at gas stations in Martensville and Warman.

Glenna and Shawn Pellerin are Brandt Pellerin’s parents. They launched a petition to have the Yellowhead Highway twinned east to the Manitoba border

While she’s received assistance and support from NDP MLAs in her efforts to ensure the petition meets the legislative requirements, Pellerin is quick to point out that it’s not a partisan political issue.

“I’ve also had help from the folks at SGI in gathering information about safety and statistics,” said Pellerin “It’s not my intention to make this a political thing at all. I don’t want to raise any  hackles.

“This is a much bigger issue that affects all the communities along the Yellowhead and everyone who travels on that highway. I’m looking for support for this from everyone. It’s all about safety.

“Let’s be proactive with our tax dollars and put them toward saving lives. It costs a lot of money to fund emergency response, hospital stays, rehabilitation and compensation.”

Pellerin said she’s heard from many people who share her concerns about the highway.

“I’m not naive,” she said. “I realize it can’t be twinned right away, but we have to start somewhere. We need to have this become a higher priority.”

The provincial government has invested funds in improving Highway 16 east of Saskatoon.

A news release issued by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure on August 4, 2022, just three days after the collision that injured Brandt Pellerin, noted that 28 passing lanes and multiple intersection upgrades were being constructed between Clavet and Dafoe; and between Springside and Saltcoats.

Highways Minister Jeremy Cockrill noted in the August 4 news release that passing lanes are a “safe and effective solution for heavier traffic volume areas.”

But Pellerin said passing lanes are not the answer.

“Passing lanes may make things worse, because you get vehicles that speed up to 150 kilometers an hour to get by the big trucks before the lane ends,” she said. “The highway needs to be twinned.”