Improved road access to be topic of discussion at UBCM

District of Clearwater plans to meet with cabinet ministers about important topics

Bert Walker’s suggestion about meeting with BC Hydro as outlined on page one was one of four initiatives he brought forward that will be taken to Union of B.C. Municipalities convention by the District of Clearwater.

Council also approved meeting with the relevant ministers to discuss improving access to the road to the Trophy Mountain flower meadows and the Clearwater River Road. Both roads are important to the local tourist industry but suffer from inadequate maintenance.

He compared this situation to roads to ski areas, which he felt are typically well maintained.

The road to the Trophies is a Forest Service road but it leads to a provincial park. As a result it sometimes is not maintained to a standard high enough for travelers.

Clearwater River Road was built as a logging road but now is almost entirely within Wells Gray Park.

It suffers from slides and washouts, particularly in the spring, and so is expensive to maintain.

Walker reminded the council members that the road to Murtle Lake in Wells Gray Park was closed for over a year several years ago because there was no money available to reopen it after a washout.

Highway access plan needed

District of Clearwater representatives hope to meet with the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure during UBCM convention to talk about the need for an overall access plan for Highway 5 as it goes through the community.

Highways staff have been saying for years that it wouldn’t be possible to reduce the speed limit on the highway from the present 60 km/hr, said Walker.

However, recently they proposed putting a roundabout on the highway, which would have the effect of slowing traffic.

The rules are such that reducing the speed limit from 60 to 50 would make it much easier for businesses to construct access roads, Walker said.

Councilor Stephanie Teare said it is a complex problem and it would be a mistake to focus on just one aspect, such as speed. Instead, an overall plan for the highway is needed.

What will happen to Infocenter?

Walker’s fourth topic to take to the politicians at the UBCM convention was Wells Gray Infocenter.

The facility is vital to the local tourist industry but has never had adequate or secure funding.

Recently, Clearwater Chamber of Commerce had to dip into its reserves to maintain staffing at its information desk in the center after anticipated federal funding fell

Mayor John Harwood suggested that the District meet with Information Wells Gray and the other stakeholders at the Infocenter to discuss which direction planning for the facility should take.

The District could then take those ideas and concerns to the appropriate provincial cabinet ministers at UBCM.