I frequently meet with the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) to discuss our rural road, medical transportation, and passenger transportation concerns; I believe the minister is finally starting to understand how important transportation is to the Columbia River – Revelstoke (CR-R).
Passenger transportation: As a riding, we are slowly increasing accessibility; it has been a struggle for many constituents after the province lost Greyhound service. Thanks to the City of Kimberley, their BC Transit commuter bus will increase its service in the fall of 2019. Over the past year, I have explained to the transportation minister that Golden and Revelstoke require reliable transportation along the Trans-Canada Highway, with a higher frequency (more than one day per week). I’m happy to say that as of May 13, we now have a private company (Rider Express) that provides six days per week of travel on Highway 1 from Calgary to Vancouver. We need to keep this service in mind when recommending travel to/within our region.
Trans-Canada Highway 1 expansion (TCH): Local knowledge is key to minimizing disruption during major construction periods. I am working with our MOTI district office to ensure that those communities deeply impacted by the TCH expansion are considered during the planned six to eight week shoulder season closures; communication is vital.
Illecillewaet- This two-kilometre stretch of construction (from June 2019 to 2022) is the first Highway 1 project to use the B.C. Government’s new Community Benefits Agreement (CBA). With that in mind, for the Illecillewaet construction, the CBA has resulted in an extra $22.3 million cost. Unfortunately, the B.C. tax payer is on the hook for this cost overrun.
Kicking Horse Canyon (KHC): Contract still needs to be awarded. Construction could start by late fall 2019, but most likely in 2020. This project will deeply affect our riding; not just because of its price tag (originally budgeted as $450 million for 4.8 kilometres), but for its ripple-effect, on other infrastructure in the area.
Radium Traffic Circle: Once the KHC construction begins and closures happen, there will be a dramatic increase in traffic for Parson, Spillimacheen, Brisco, Edgewater, Radium, and Kootenay National Park. I have asked the, minister to ensure that the traffic circle upgrade in Radium is completed before the Kicking Horse Expansion commences; the minister had not yet considered this situation. Once again, having a resident MLA voice sitting in the legislature is beneficial; someone who can bring local information to the government’s attention.
Hwy 95 Bridge in Golden: This little bridge is one of our region’s most important arteries. An average of 13,000 vehicles cross it on any given day. Built in 1952, it is inspected regularly, but was marked to be replaced. Unfortunately the funding for that has disappeared. I’ve asked the Minister of Transportation to confirm if the bridge and the Highway 95 road south can handle the increased traffic pressure, the minister said a study will take place to determine if it is.
Extra Traffic Enforcement: Traffic and law enforcement is stretched thin in our communities. I do not believe that our communities should be required to pull officers from our local detachments to cover the increase in traffic because of the TCH closures. I met with both the solicitor general at the end of May and the MOTI minister in late April to request that the CR-R will require an increase to the number of CVSE and RCMP officers during these closures (for the long stretch of diverted traffic).
Invasive mussels: We have one 24-hour inspection station along the B.C. and Alberta border (in Golden); I continually remind the Minister of Environment that tens of thousands of watercraft cross through the Radium and Crowsnest borders each summer, many uninspected. The mussel’s destruction caused on our waterways, beaches, hydro infrastructure, flora, and fauna would be catastrophic. I will not give up until our border is protected with 24-hour inspection stations. In April, I met with the Minister of Environment and asked that the Golden 24-hour station be moved to the other side of Radium when the KHC closures are happening, doing this would capture boats travelling north from Radium/Kootenay National Park.
Committee on finance and government services: I have been busy sitting on this committee, and the province-wide travel of our work is coming up this June. For the first time ever, the committee is coming to the City of Kimberley in our beautiful Columbia River – Revelstoke riding on June 11. I just received word that the Kimberley session is almost full; if you or an organization are interested in telling the province what you would like to see for the 2020 budgets and government services, please call one of my constituency offices, or check this link online at www.bcleg.ca/FGSbudget.
Toll-free phone: 1-844-432-2300
Kimberley office: 362 Wallinger Avenue
Revelstoke office: 107 First Street East
For more information on what I am up to, please follow me on Twitter at @ClovechokforCRR