Residents will soon get a chance to see what the design for the upgrading of the Trans-Canada Highway at the west end of Salmon Arm looks like.
B.C. Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Todd Stone addressed the Salmon Arm Chamber of Commerce Tuesday morning. There he announced that a public information meeting is set for Wednesday, June 24 from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Prestige Harbourfront Resort.
“I encourage you to participate if you still have thoughts and concerns,” he told his audience.
He said the ministry’s intention is to four-lane from where four-laning ends west of Salmon Arm, over a new Salmon River Bridge and through Salmon Arm. He said it’s a $120 million project.
Whether it’s done in one, two, three or four phases will depend on how much the federal government will cost share, he said, noting the two levels of government are currently in discussions.
Following his presentation, Salmon Arm Mayor Nancy Cooper asked if there is anything city council can do to help bring in the federal government.
Stone said he wanted to emphasize the federal government is in discussions with the province.
“I don’t want the message to come out of this room I was pointing the finger at the federal government,” he said. “We’re all in this together. I’ve had some very good discussions with Colin Mayes. He’s very passionate about improving the Trans-Canada Highway.”
Stone said the provincial ministry is working on all the design work, which isn’t done by the federal government.
“The western approaches, we’re getting very close… We’re doing a tremendous amount of work to make sure these projects are shovel ready.”
He said it would be helpful if city council continues to reinforce with the MP and other federal government reps how important the project is.
Rodger DeMille said he is the title holder on the DeMille’s property and asked why no one from the ministry has consulted him properly.
DeMille said he is particularly concerned about land being taken out of the Agricultural Land Reserve.
Stone said he will make sure staff reach out to him.
“Absolutely you have my commitment on that.”
Several other people at Stone’s presentation asked questions.
Warren Bell said the federal government has set aside funds for flood-plain mapping and noted Salmon Arm’s data is very old.
He asked how high a priority if would be for the reconstruction through Salmon Arm to include a flood-plain analysis, noting a number of citizens think it would be a good time to do it.
“I will take that up with staff,” Stone said. “I would tend to come from the same place you’re at,” he said, adding he is pleased the federal government is undertaking the work and he thinks there’s a role for the provincial and local governments.
He said the province is trying to find a balance between modernizing and practical limits on funding.
“Your suggestion regarding the Salmon River Bridge is a good one.”
One woman asked about trucks speeding down the hill into town from the east, possibly carrying dangerous goods.
Stone said the province doesn’t have the resources to put high level enforcement at every stretch of highway in B.C., but does try to target the highest priorities.
“But your feedback is valued. I will ask CVSE (Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement) to take a look at the approaches here.”
Other questions included the topics of line painting, pot holes, cycling corridors and driverless transport trucks.
Stone said a federal government regulation introduced a few years ago means the paint used now doesn’t last. He said the province and other jurisdictions are trying to find a solution.
Regarding pot holes, he said he thinks ministry staff were going to address them in spring and early summer.
“I’ll definitely take that back,” he said.
He said the province is going to invest in cycling networks, starting with one in the Okanagan “in a matter of weeks.”
He said funds will be spent on sweeping road shoulders and a cycling tourism signage program.
Chamber president Jim Kimmerly asked about driverless trucks being tested in Nevada. Stone said four states are seriously evaluating them but “you will not see driverless vehicles in British Columbia in the next five years.”