Not-so-clean sweep for Fort

The District of Fort St. James is trying to clean up the streets, literally.

The District of Fort St. James is trying to clean up the streets.

The only problem is, they do not have the equipment they need to do the job.

The District of Fort St. James does not own their own street sweeper, instead, the task is contracted out to Vanderhoof, which can only provide the service once they are done sweeping their own streets.

“We don’t necessarily get it when we want or need it,” said Kevin Crook, Chief Administrative Officer for the District. “And of course, there is a significant cost to bring it up.”

However, with increased industrial traffic through town from both the mine and the logging in the area trucking logs to southern mills, the streets need attention more frequently, and the mayor and council have received more comments from residents and are more concerned for pedestrian health and cyclist safety.

“The dirt on the side of the road is pushing them into the middle of the road and then of course there’s just not enough space for two logging trucks and a bicycle in that very narrow space in the middle,” said Councillor Joan Burdeniuk who is also on the Transportation Committee. “For me it is a safety issue, as well as a cosmetic issue.”

“We want to encourage people to be biking and walking, and to do that we thought the sweeper would be excellent for that as well,” said Crook.

The Transportation Committee’s recommendation is for there to be more frequent street sweeping, in whatever way the District can make this happen, however, service from Vanderhoof is limited by their own street sweeping and manpower requirements.

“They’ve been very accommodating, as much as they can,” said Burdeniuk. “It’s just we need a bit more than they can offer.”

The District did not have the room in recent budgets to purchase a street sweeper, which they estimated would cost around $100,000, and the District has been looking informally for grants for the sweeper for up to two years but so far unsuccessfully.

So they had hoped to approach the industry users who are adding to the issue through the increased traffic to therefore help out by contributing towards the purchase.

“We were hoping that they cold contribute to the quality of life here by supporting the purchase,” said Crook.

So far, Carrier Lumber and Dunkley Lumber were both sent letters requesting contributions towards the purchase, but neither one has expressed interest in doing so.

“The feeling is that the increased use of the road is making it dirtier,” said Burdeniuk. “That’s the first kick at the can, we’re not going to give up on it yet.”