Newly elected MP David Wilks (right) shakes hands with his predecessor

New MP David Wilks says he will make Trans-Canada top priority

Will a Conservative majority finally mean lasting improvements to the Trans-Canada Highway around Revelstoke? That’s the hope after David Wilks was elected MP for Kootenay-Columbia in last Monday’s federal election.

Will a Conservative majority finally mean lasting improvements to the Trans-Canada Highway around Revelstoke? That’s the hope after David Wilks was elected MP for Kootenay-Columbia in last Monday’s federal election.

Wilks said the first thing he would work on as MP is continuing funding for the beleaguered stretch of the highway from Golden through Revelstoke.

“It’s so important to get the highway up to today’s standards,” said Wilks following his victory.

Wilks won the May 2 election with 23,886 votes (55.9 per cent). Shmigelsky came in second with 14,161 votes (33.2 per cent).

Green Party Candidate, Bill Green, won 5.9 per cent of the vote with 2,532 ballots cast, while Betty Aitchison, who ran for the Liberal Party, received 1,492 votes (3.5 per cent). Independent Candidate Brent Bush, who announced just a few days before the election that he was throwing his support behind Shmigelsky, won 1.5 per cent of the vote with 643 ballots.

Voter turnout in the riding was 64.3 per cent and increased by more than 3,300 over the 2008 election.

“I am honoured, and really looked forward to working with all the constituents in our riding,” Wilks said the morning after his victory. “I can assure you I will work as hard as I can in the next four years to show my worth in this riding.”

Concerns over the Trans-Canada Highway were at the forefront of the campaign in Revelstoke. At the all-candidates forum here, which Wilks did not attend, two people asked passionate questions about the state of the highway.

One person happy with the news is Mark McKee, the former mayor of Revelstoke and chair of the dormant Safe Trans-Canada Highway group, which started up following a crash that killed seven people in 2000 and lobbied for highway improvements until it lost momentum mid-decade.

McKee, who hosted a campaign event in Revelstoke for Wilks, said he is looking at reviving the lobby group but “it’s on the side table right now, it’s not right in front of me.”

He said being represented in a majority government boded well and he had placed a call to BC Ministry of Transportation Blair Lekstrom.

“I had big support from provincial governments in the past and I want to confirm that support is still there first, as part of it, and then start working on the federal government again through our new MP,” said McKee

During the campaign, it seemed that Wilks had got the message. He said that as MP in a majority government he would have access to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Transportation and would be able to push for improvements to the Trans-Canada.

“That was pretty clear to me when I talked to people in Revelstoke that the Trans-Canada Highway was the number one priority,” he said prior to the election. “It’s really important that we push the Trans-Canada Highway and push it and push it.”

One other group excited by the election of a Conservative majority is the Revelstoke Rod and Gun Club.

“The Conservatives made it clear if they got a majority they would abolish the gun registry, so we’re looking forward to that,” said executive director Gary Krestinsky.

With files from Nadine Sander-Green and Kerstin Renner/Black Press.