Local politicians are calling a lobbying meeting with a federal transportation ministry representative “positive.”
Revelstoke Mayor David Raven and Columbia River—Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald joined other regional mayors and Kootenay—Columbia MP David Wilks in Calgary on Nov. 1 to lobby the federal transportation ministry for Trans-Canada Highway improvements.
Both mayor Raven and MLA Macdonald said the meeting with a federal parliamentary secretary was a positive affair.
Raven said the feds made no commitments, but said there have been “veiled references in a number of budget documents.”
Raven said Watson “appreciated our concerns and interest.”
MLA Macdonald said he was hopeful the united lobby would bring results. “What we know is a new federal program is coming out. The timing is very good.”
Macdonald said the lobby would continue to organize and push for the funding.
The lobby is focused on two goals. The first is to push for improvements and four-laning in national parks along the highway, including Mt. Revelstoke and Glacier.
The second is a push for federal funding assistance for highway improvements in the sections of the highway maintained by the province.
Macdonald, who sits in Opposition in the provincial legislature, said he was confident the B.C. government would fund improvements if the federal government ponied up.
“I think the provincial part is nailed down; if the feds come to the table I think the province will,” Macdonald said.
Kootenay–Columbia MP David Wilks also described the meeting as productive.
“We basically explained … the importance of twinning the Trans-Canada Highway through the national parks and that we were going to push forward a plan and a request no later than the middle of December,” he said.
Wilks said finding federal funding for the national parks was a new focus. Unlike other portions that require matching federal and provincial funds, the portions of the highway in Mt. Revelstoke and Glacier National Park are federal jurisdiction.
Wilks said he’s hoping to put together a 20-year funding plan.
He also said the longstanding slide on Heather Mountain needs to be addressed. The mountainside has a longstanding slide issue, which overwhelms the highway with mud and debris from time to time. A much larger slide at the site is a concern.
Correction: An earlier version of this story stated the group met with parliamentary secretary Jeff Watson. This is not the case.