Mayor calls for action – An open letter goes to the Ministry of Transportation on area roads

Highway 27 serves as the main highway linking Fort St. James to the south, and part if it serves as the main street in our community.

Dear Minister Lekstrom:

Our presentation to you at the 2011 UBCM conference is regarding a matter of extreme concern to our citizens and those of our rural area. It is the major highway and resource road into, through and past Fort St. James.

Highway 27 serves as the main highway linking Fort St. James to the south, and part if it serves as the main street in our community. In addition, the part north of Fort St. James serves as a major resource road servicing the forest industry, transporting raw logs to mills to the south, east and west of us. In the recent past it has also evolved into the main transportation route to and from the Mount Milligan gold/copper mine site. Forestry traffic has increased due to the movement of major licensees into cells north of us. The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and major licensees have indicated to us the expectation that 400 to 500 logging trucks, both loaded and empty, will travel on our main street daily, along with mining traffic and equipment, this winter. In addition to industrial traffic, school buses and small passenger vehicles travel this road with their much larger cousins.

The North Road is in terrible state and needs major repairs and increased maintenance. We are very concerned that a serious accident will happen. The whole situation is becoming untenable. It is a disaster waiting to happen. We are presenting you a package which contains: Photos taken by individuals travelling the road attesting to it’s degraded condition; letters from contractors operating on the North Road on behalf of the truckers; requests from individuals for action; response of the District Manager to our concerns at a meeting held in August; a compilation of the raw log numbers that have travelled the north road and their obvious value to provincial coffers; and a report of the number of vehicles travelling on our main street in a 24-hour period earlier this month.

Mr. Minister, for whatever measures have been taken to improve chances for those travelling the North Road, we are grateful. The reality, however, is that if we wish to be able to transport our forest resources down that corridor, a major revamping must occur in the thinking of the ministry. The situation will only get worse should Mount Milligan decide to transport concentrate from the mine via Fort St. James.

The case is strong for ensuring that resource revenues continue to flow smoothly into provincial coffers. At our level of government we are more concerned about the safety and peace of mind of our residents. We also must continue to attempt to make a strong case on behalf of our business owners, in this case forestry contractors who have provided the backbone for this community for many years.

Come to Fort St. James, drive the North Road with us and give us your thoughts. Thank you in advance for your consideration of our concerns.

Mayor Sandra Harwood

Fort St. James, B.C.