MLA Peter Milobar talks with John Downey during a meet and greet at Dutch Lake Community Centre on Friday afternoon, April 6. There should be a road into Wells Gray Park from the Cariboo for safety reasons, said Downey, a longtime resident of the North Thompson Valley.

Milobar hears about second road into Wells Gray Park

Last summer’s wildfires showed the need for a second road from the Cariboo into Wells Gray Park

Longtime local resident John Downey had a clear message for MLA Peter Milobar during a meet-and-greet held at Dutch Lake Community Centre on Friday afternoon, April 6.

Last summer’s wildfire situation showed the need for a second road from the Cariboo into Wells Gray Park, he said.

“It’s not that far,” Downey told the Kamloops-North Thompson MLA. “If you stand on Green Mountain you can easily see Mahood Lake.”

There is, at present, only one road in and out of the park. If a forest fire should cut that road, then it would be difficult to evacuate the hundreds of people visiting Helmcken Falls or camping at Clearwater Lake on a typical summer’s day.

In part because of the access situation, during much of last summer’s wildfire season, Wells Gray Park was either closed or had extremely limited access, with devastating consequences for many area businesses.

READ MORE: Wells Gray Park closed to public (July 9, 2017)

READ MORE: Manager to assess wildfire impact on businesses (Nov. 25, 2017)

To provide an alternative exit, a second road would need to cross the Clearwater River somewhere upstream from the Helmcken Falls Canyon, Downey felt. It then would proceed west to Mahood Lake and on to the Cariboo.

Much of the route is already crossed by logging roads, he pointed out.

With jobs in the forest industry in slow decline, Wells Gray Park is the only asset the North Thompson Valley has that is increasing, he said.

Keeping local control is important. Downey said he had visited Fraser Island in Australia. It had been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a major hotel chain had moved in and the chain now controls nearly everything on the island, he said.

READ MORE: Time to back to basics on Geopark proposal (Sept. 21, 2017)

“It would need to be a locally driven process,” commented Milobar. “If you’re talking about a second road into Wells Gray Park, then half the people would be happy and the other half unhappy.”

He recalled that, during the wildfires of 2003, there had been an attempt to send buses to evacuate Sun Peaks by way of a logging road. It had not ended well, the MLA said.

The Kamloops-North Thompson representative said he has been in discussions with the Minister regarding maintenance and improvements to the park road.

He felt there should be more longterm planning for Wells Gray Park.

“We need to look at Clearwater as if it were Banff or Jasper – as if it were in Wells Gray Park, even though it is not,” Milobar said.

He said that when looking at the economics of Wells Gray Park it is necessary to include the dollars spent in Clearwater and not just in the park itself.

Locating hotels and other services in Clearwater would make it easier to keep large portions of the park as wilderness, the MLA felt.

Dunn Lake Road is a concern

Downey was just one of several local residents who met with Milobar during the meet-and-greet.

Another was Bill Ludtke, the East Blackpool representative on the Wells Gray Country services committee.

There are three main issues for East Blackpool residents, Ludtke said. Those are the road, the road and the road.

READ MORE: Birch Island and East Blackpool residents concerned about roads (May 15, 2017)

Inadequate road maintenance is having a negative impact on tourist businesses in the locality, he felt.

Milobar said he would check with the Ministry and see what the plans are.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Two events planned for Youth Week

“Clearwater’s Got Talent” and “Clearwater Carnage Sk8, Scoot and Bike Jam”

TNRD plans fire service information meeting

Meeting on Monday evening in Little Fort Hall will look at whether TNRD should take over service

PHOTOS: No fear

Youngsters swim in Dutch Lake just a few days after the ice goes off

Theft at Mt. Timothy latest challenge for local ski hill

Society president Mike Kidston still hoping local politicians will support referendum on funding

New picnic shelter for Dutch Lake beach

Construction should be completed next week

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Renewed plea for answers in 40-year-old B.C. cold case

The family of Lawrence Wellington Allard is hoping a private reward will get them some closure

UPDATED: Arrest made after van hits pedestrians in Toronto

Police are not saying what is the extent of injuries yet

B.C. farmland values grew at slower rate in 2017: report

Vancouver Island saw the highest growth in the province

Turbulent times for outgoing B.C. Lieutenant Governor

Judith Guichon ends term today, returns to Nicola Valley ranch

NHL playoffs weekly roundup

Maple Leafs look to stay alive tonight as they face elimination against Boston on home ice

Woman found dead in car in Kamloops

A woman was found dead in a car in Kamloops, while two men also found unconscious

Electric vehicles more affordable than you think: BC Hydro

Myths blocking road to electric vehicle adoption

Most Read