The 2015 provincial budget contains no new funding for upgrading the Trans-Canada Highway around Revelstoke, the Times Review has learned.
The budget calls for $151 million to be spent on Highway 1 improvements from Kamloops to the Alberta border over the next three years, but the planned projects do not include any in the Revelstoke area, other than the Malakwa Bridge replacement, which was announced last year.
“The ministry continues to address high priority sections of the Trans-Canada Highway,” wrote spokesperson Sonia Lowe in an e-mail. “In addition to the Malakwa Bridge, work will continue on two major improvement projects between Monte Creek and Hoffman’s Bluff, east of Kamloops.”
The Malakwa Bridge replacement project was tendered last year at a cost of $35 million and is expected to be completed in 2016. The province is forking out $22 million, while the federal government is paying the remaining $13 million.
The 2015 budget calls for $45 million in spending on Highway 1 improvements from Kamloops to Alberta in 2015/16, $45 million in 2016/17 and $60 million in 2017/18.
The budget also shows that only about 60 per cent of the money budgeted for upgrades in the past year was actually spent. The 2014/15 budget called for $50 million in spending on Highway 1 upgrades in the past year, but only $29 million was actually spent, according to the updated forecast.
Premier Christy Clark made a 10-year, $650 million commitment to upgrade the Trans-Canada Highway at the 2012 Union of BC Municipalities conference.
Norm Macdonald, the MLA for Columbia River-Revelstoke, called the lack of funding a “Liberal fail.”
“So many promises, and so much effort on behalf of local politicians, came to nothing yesterday as the BC Liberal budget released on Tuesday completely ignored the Trans Canada highway upgrade,” he said in a news release.
According to ICBC statistics reported by Global News, the stretch of the Trans-Canada between Revelstoke and Golden was the scene of 38 fatal crashes in the 10 years from 2004–2013, making it the deadliest stretch of highway in the province. There were 14 fatal crashes from Sicamous to Revelstoke, 24 from Sicamous to Sorrento, and 24 from Sorrento to Kamloops.
Kootenay-Columbia MP David Wilks told Revelstoke council last week that he asked for $5 billion in spending from the Federal government to twin the Trans-Canada through Yoho, Glacier and Mount Revelstoke National Parks. The funding would not cover portions of the highway outside the parks.
Last Monday, Feb. 9, Todd Stone, the BC Minister of Transportation, was in Revelstoke to do a fly-over of the Trans-Canada Highway. He met with local government officials to discuss the issues surrounding the highway.
Mayor Mark McKee was in Victoria earlier this week to talk about highway safety with Stone and other cabinet officials.