City councillors will be hitting the road for Victoria to address the delay on Highway 1 improvements that were expected to have begun this spring.
At the council meeting of July 9, Salmon Arm’s mayor and council agreed to send Couns. Alan Harrison and Chad Eliason to the island with the intention of meeting B.C. Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Claire Trevena. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the ministry’s Salmon Arm West project, which includes additional four-laning of the Trans-Canada Highway and a new bridge over the Salmon River.
“They promised us they would start pre-loading last fall but that didn’t happen, so they promised in the spring and nothing has happened out there so we are going down to let them know we are really concerned about this,” Mayor Nancy Cooper said.
Eliason said meeting with the minister outside of the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in September would be more effective because it would be more focused.
“You have key staff members, you have the minister there and you have their attention and you’re not one of 168 meetings in 15 minutes.”
Harrison said he’s happy to meet with the minister, provide information and make the city’s concerns known.
“We are into July and we haven’t seen movement yet, so I think we need to go down and make a visit and make our presence known, let the minister again know of the community’s importance regarding this project. I would like to see it happen as soon as possible,” said Harrison.
While in Victoria, Harrison and Eliason also want to meet with Forest, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development Minister Doug Donaldson to discuss the city’s Rapattack base. In October 2016, the province announced it would be phasing out catering and accommodations services at the base, sparking local concern for the loss of such services and the need for alternative housing.
Catering services were to end on Jan. 1, 2017, and housing on Jan. 1, 2018.
The estimated annual cost savings of eliminating the two services amounted to $119,000.
In September 2017, the B.C. government announced it would be reviewing the availability of accommodation for firefighting crews, and in the meantime accommodation would continue at the local base through 2018.
The BC Wildfire Service is now in the process of finalizing its review.
Meanwhile, Cooper said the city has received some encouraging comments from the ministry.
“Before, when we would talk to them, it was kind of like things were closed, this is the way it is, but they’ve been talking more positively,” said Cooper.