Road to Sun Peaks in need of comprehensive safety study

Dave Fowles of Kinder Morgan speaks to C2C meeting Friday.

Dave Fowles of Kinder Morgan speaks to C2C meeting Friday.

BARRIERE — The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure will consider doing a comprehensive safety study of the road between Heffley Creek and Sun Peaks.

I proposed the study at a Community to Community meeting attended by about 30 political and community leaders in the District of Barriere offices on Friday.

The annual meeting brings local government and First Nations representatives together from the area stretching from Area P to Clearwater to talk about common issues.

Trent Folk , MOTI’s district transportation manager for Thompson Nicola, gave the group an update on road construction in the region. Among the projects of particular interest to Area P in the past couple of years have been the Vinsulla passing lane on the Yellowhead Highway completed last year, and the earlier repaving projects on the Paul Lake-Pinantan and East Shuswap roads.

I pointed out the concerns about speeding on the Heffley-Louis Creek Road, especially at Whitecroft and Little Heffley Lake. The issue isn’t the condition of the road but drivers who speed on the way to Sun Peaks and back. With the increasing number of summer events at Sun Peaks, it’s now a year-round concern.

MOTI has been very co-operative in responding to concerns as they’re expressed, but I suggested that an examination of the entire road rather than simply dealing with complaints as they come up would be helpful in creating a comprehensive strategy.

Folk agreed to take the idea to a traffic engineer for consideration.

Another item of interest to Area P is cellphone service, especially in Heffley Lake and Pinantan. Howard Randall of Network B.C. reviewed several initiatives being undertaken by the provincial and federal governments, including a $750 million CRTC funding program with the goal of providing cell service throughout the country.

I pointed out that the main stumbling block to expanding cell service in rural areas is the focus by telecom companies on highway corridors, since that’s where the best business case can be made. As a result, however, communityies off the highway are being left out.

I asked how the new funding program squared with that reality. Randall acknowledged that the numbers don’t add up — since Telus, for example, commonly refers to the cost of a single cell tower ranging up to a million dollars, a $750 million program isn’t going to get cell service throughout the country.

Other items on the agenda included an update on Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline project, Interior Health’s strategy for rural areas, the TNRD’s proposed official community plan for the North Thompson Valley, and an overview of the North Thompson Fall Fair.

While the C2C meetings are usually held once a year, delegates decided to schedule an extra one in May to discuss preparations for the Trans Mountain project.

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