Shuswap residents have concerns with the maintenance of rural roads and Highway 1 this winter by the province’s contractor, AIM Roads. (AIM Roads photo)

Shuswap residents have concerns with the maintenance of rural roads and Highway 1 this winter by the province’s contractor, AIM Roads. (AIM Roads photo)

Highways contractor’s performance leaves rural Shuswap residents cold

AIM Roads’ efforts in North and South Shuswap, Malakwa prompting complaints

Rural residents in the Shuswap are waiting to be impressed by the province’s new highways maintenance contractor for the region.

Elain Bow, who lives on Hendrickson Road near Balmoral, says she and others in the area have been underwhelmed with AIM Roads’ performance when it comes to winter maintenance of rural roads. On her road, she says the company had been using an undersized plow that wasn’t able to clear the snow to the degree she and other residents had seen from the previous contractor. As a result, the road was becoming increasingly narrow.

“A certain amount of that is just the conditions, but we did have a heavy snow two years ago and JPW (the former contractor) deployed a great big plow and that thing threw the snow way up and off the road, which we have the capacity to handle up here,” said Bow. “But they will not deploy that machine and, as a result, we’re coming into a situation where I’m afraid there’s going to be an accident on our road.”

Read more: Many North Okanagan roads remain an ice rink

Read more: Thefts, domestic assaults and Highway 1 collisions keep Sicamous RCMP busy

Read more: Roads contractor waits for snow removal equipment as winter looms

After making calls to AIM Roads, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI), ICBC and the RCMP, Bow said AIM Roads plowed her road again on Sunday, Jan. 12, and were able to make it “marginally wider.”

“I think that AIM got the message from the one neighbour… who has contacted them daily for the last two weeks and finally lost his temper Saturday on the phone with them,” said Bow.

Residents of the North Shuswap have also expressed concerns regarding winter road maintenance there.

When asked about service to rural roads, AIM Road operations manager for the Shuswap, Gabriel Nava, said every road maintained by the company is done in less than 48 hours after a storm has ended. Initial focus is on Class A (high volume traffic, more than 5,000 vehicle daily traffic count), Class B (trunk and main routes, 1,000 daily traffic count) and Class C roads (school bus, industrial routes), as well as some Class D roads (other regularly maintained winter routes) with more hills and corners.

“Then we are hitting all the little roads we can get to,” said Nava. “We ensure all the school bus routes are open so kids can make it to school.”

Even Highway 1 has been a concern for Malakwa resident Melissa Fallis, who commutes daily to Salmon Arm.

“In previous years, there have been days here and there where you would white knuckle it, slow right down and pray for the best, but this year that has been happening a lot more frequently and for much longer in duration,” said Fallis, noting Highway 1 has gone from washboard conditions on Dec. 31 to sections of sheer ice.

While she understands road crews have been working hard, and has seen posts by AIM Roads asking for patience, Fallis says she hasn’t felt safe at all driving Highway 1 this winter.

“I don’t mind adjusting for these conditions in a storm and to make it from point A to point B,” said Fallis. “However, when the conditions don’t improve over several days and several calls into the call centre – your fear and frustration levels rise. I have three daughters at home and all I want is to make it there and back – without wondering if I am going to see them again. It is a nauseating feeling…”

Fallis says her top five worst spots on Highway 1 include: the hill by the Canoe golf course; the s-curve near the Canoe Forest Products mill; the stretch from the last exit to Oxbow Frontage Road to the Perry River Bridge; and in front of the Husky/Esso station in Sicamous.

The Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) reports having received plenty of calls regarding winter road maintenance. However, the CSRD is not responsible for the maintenance or plowing of roads, and has provided a list of numbers to call for residents of the regional district. In Service Area 13, Okanagan-Shuswap (Electoral Areas C and D, and the majority of Areas E and F), concerns can be directed to AIM Roads Inc at 1-866-222-4204, or email aimroads@acciona.ca, or MOTI’s Vernon area office at 1-250-503-3664.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Okanagan’s first virtual wedding fair will be held Saturday, March 27. {Paul Rodgers photo)
Okanagan to host virtual wedding fair

Okanagan wine country is No. 1 destination for weddings - online event set for March 27

Vernon Search and Rescue, with help from the Air Rescue One helicopter out of Wildcat Helicopters in Kelowna, and Central Okanagan Search and Rescue, were able to transport an injured snowmobiler to Vernon Regional Airport, where he was loaded into an ambulance and taken to Vernon Jubilee Hospital with a serious, painful back injury. (Facebook photo)
Okanagan helicopter rescue teams called to retrieve injured sledder at Greystokes

Vernon and Central Okanagan Search and Rescue help load injured man into waiting helicopter

Chase RCMP held two men involved in drunken disturbances overnight in their detachment’s cells on Feb. 6. (File Photo)
Chase RCMP hold two men involved in drunken disturbances overnight

The two separate incidents took place less than an hour apart.

The District of Sicamous is trying to take over management of the Sicamous and District Recreation Centre . (File Photo)
District of Sicamous seeks management contract for hockey arena

The arena has been managed by a non-profit society since it was built in the early 1980s.

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

(Contributed)
Kelowna flight potentially exposed to COVID-19

Third case on a local flight this month, compared to 14 through January

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Wills Hodgkinson, 10, and his mom Neeley Brimer get ready to battle round three of cancer. The community of Penticton has his back. (Submitted)
Community raises $21K to help Penticton boy battle third round of cancer

Okanoggin Barbers held the fundraiser on Saturday for 10-year-old Wills Hodgkinson

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
UPDATE: 70-year-old man killed in workplace accident at Baldy Mountain

The mountain closed on Saturday but has partially re-opened today (Sunday)

Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

Kamloops Fire Rescue battled a landfill fire which belched toxic smoke into the air on Feb. 27. (City of Kamloops Photo)
Fire at Kamloops landfill sends thick black smoke into the air

Firefighters made slow progress on the fire throughout the morning.

Most Read