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Election 2017: The Trans-Canada Highway

The candidates for election in Columbia River-Revelstoke, from left: Doug Clovechok (Liberal), Gerry Taft (NDP), Justin Hooles (independent) and Samson Boyer (Green). - Contributed
The candidates for election in Columbia River-Revelstoke, from left: Doug Clovechok (Liberal), Gerry Taft (NDP), Justin Hooles (independent) and Samson Boyer (Green).
— image credit: Contributed

The state of the Trans-Canada Highway is always at the forefront of people's minds in Revelstoke. A few months ago, the federal and provincial governments announced they would be completing the Kicking Horse Canyon project, but that still leaves many kilometres of the highway from Kamloops to Alberta left to upgrade.

This week, we asked:

There are several sections of Highway 1 through the Columbia River-Revelstoke riding that remain dangerous to both commercial and public traffic. How would you and your party prioritize the remainder of the four-laning project from Kamloops to the Alberta border on Highway 1?

Here are their answers:

Justin Hooles, Independent

The Trans-Canada Highway is an important piece of infrastructure for the entire country, which means that our federal government shares the responsibility of upgrading this vital piece of infrastructure with the provinces. We will need to work with both the federal and the provincial government to make this a priority.

The BC NDP and BC Liberals have both committed to completing the highway from Kamloops to Alberta, in their respective platforms. I would hold them accountable to this commitment, and deliver regular reminders to them until they begin the project.

To acquire the necessary federal funding, we should lobby the ministry of infrastructure, and work with our Member of Parliament, focused on making sure that all aspects of this issue are understood throughout the levels of government. This includes, safety, economy, and transportation.

During the winter, it is extremely common for this road to be closed due to motor vehicle accidents. This means that residents can't get home, and it also halts all commercial traffic as well. We should cooperate with the local electoral district associations of all parties asking them to sponsor policies regarding this issue, and in turn to represent the issue at their party's policy conventions.

Gerry Taft, NDP

Our previous MLA, Norm Macdonald, has always made the upgrading of the Trans-Canada Highway a top priority. It is an issue that he has raised with the Premier, numerous Ministers of Transportation and their federal counterparts, and constantly in the Legislature.

I intend to be just as determined in my insistence that these critical upgrades be done at a much faster rate than has occurred under 16 years of BC Liberal government.

In 2012, looking back on a decade of BC Liberal rule, the Premier stated that her government needed to speed up the work on the Trans Canada Highway. And she promised to do just that. Yet, since that promise was made, her government has only upgraded a further 13 kilometres.

The BC NDP has been very clear that this is a project that cannot wait. We've also committed to ensuring that we get the most out of this infrastructure spending by using British Columbian labour and by improving opportunities for apprenticeships and career development.

Voters will have to decide if the BC Liberal record on upgrading the Trans Canada Highway over the last 16 years is acceptable to them. From my perspective, it is not.

Samson Boyer, Green Party

I'm probably not alone in thinking that the four lane highway should have happened a long time ago.

This is the primary route of commerce that connects the rest of Canada to the Lower Mainland. As such, it is a necessary infrastructure investment and four-laning the highway simply makes common sense.

While there have been improvements in the last several years, there are still worrisome sections of the highway that require attention. There are many areas where the road is narrow, curvy and with steep grades. There are also issues such as narrow bridges, rock slides and avalanches to take into account.

A particular stretch of challenging highway, that running through the Kicking Horse Canyon east of Golden, has already been identified as a priority and is in the final phase of a four phase project.

Largely considered one of the most dangerous highways in the country, the 148-kilometres between Golden and Revelstoke has been the site of 38 fatal crashes from 2004-2013.

In short, we need to ensure that future improvements are prioritized by high crash locations.

Doug Clovechok, BC Liberal

Improving Highway 1 to make it safer and more efficient for families and businesses is vitally important to our region. Over the past four years, I have worked together with local government leaders to advocate for the four-laning of Highway 1. Our efforts proved to be successful recently when the federal and provincial governments committed $450 million towards the final and most challenging phase of Kicking Horse, and a further $19.4 million for Donald to Forde station, west of Golden.

I'm working hard to earn your vote so I can continue to advocate as your MLA in Victoria for continued safety improvements in areas with high traffic volumes, higher than average crash rates or where there are bridges that need replacing.

Since 2001, the BC Liberals have worked with the federal government to invest or commit more than $1.5 billion on the Trans-Canada Highway between Kamloops and the Alberta border – more than 10 times the $140 million invested by the NDP in 1990's. There is more work to do – that's why we need to continue to grow our economy, create jobs, and balance our budget so we can build a strong BC and Columbia River-Revelstoke by investing in infrastructure.

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