Three Valley Gap netting system approved for installation after letter-writing campaign

Shannon Smith, who spearheaded the campaign, calls the fix ‘a step in the right direction’

(Ministry of Transportation) An arial view of Three Valley Gap during installation of avalanche control towers at the site in 2016. Recent developments will see netting installed at the site to catch small to medium sized rocks beside the highway.

Following months of campaigning and hundreds of letters sent, progress is being made at Three Valley Gap.

Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok announced through a Facebook post on July 16, 2018 that the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is sourcing out a netting system to keep small and medium sized rocks off of the Trans Canada Highway.

Several comments on the post, however, call the action a “band-aid” fix.

The construction of the apparatus is a direct result of the letter-writing campaign spearheaded by Revelstoke local Shannon Smith, who first wrote to Premier Horgan and urged others to do the same after a rock-slide descended on her vehicle while commuting home from Salmon Arm on on October 17, 2017.

RELATED: The day the wall fell down

RELATED: Highway 1 open after rocks fall on vehicle

While Smith says more still needs to be done, the current fix is promising as it confirms concern is being heard at a high level.

“Even personally I get people asking me ‘Well, is this a solution?’ And no, it’s not a solution, but it’s a step,” says Smith. “Mr. Horgan’s aware of it, it’s a step in the right direction. Yes, it’s a band-aid solution, but you have got to start somewhere.”

The accident, which resulted in a fractured 12th vertebrae and a totalled newly bought 2018 Chevrolet Equinox, led Smith to begin writing letters in late November.

As boulders continued to come down with no change to the area, Smith decided to push harder in late April, urging others to write letters to premier John Horgan for action on the strip of Hwy. 1.

RELATED: Three Valley Gap landslide accident victim spearheads letter writing campaign

In his Facebook post, MLA Clovechok outlines that a bid process is in progress to find a supplier for the “Rockfall Attenuator System.”

Clovechok also further explains that the netting will be built in a way that will unlink during avalanche season.

Smith says she is hopeful that the implementation of the screen at the location is the beginning of further developments, as the current fix is not a long term solution.

“It makes me feel not 100% safer, but definitely safer driving the highway. I really don’t want this or something worse to happen to somebody else,” says Smith.

“This is a step in the right direction. I know a lot of people are saying it’s a waste of time and money, but when you drive out through Three Valley – I’ve heard so many stories – and we shouldn’t be afraid to leave town. It’s not fair.”

Smith says she’s currently in the process of writing letters to federal representatives on the issue, as she sees the location as worthy of national attention.

“This isn’t just a provincial matter, this is our national highway. This is the highway that runs straight across Canada, and it’s a disgrace,” Smith says. “It’s embarrassing.”

With such attention, Smith says she’s hopeful that a long-term solution may be landed on, proposing that a snow shed or altered path of the highway may be appropriate reactions, though admitting at this time she is unsure of what may work.

“I know that there’s a solution out there somewhere, there has to be,” says Smith.

Discussion on the improvements to the Three Valley Gap stretch were recently held as part of an update from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to the CSRD board on July 19.

RELATED: Ministry updates CSRD on plans for improving highway between Shuswap and Alberta border

At the meeting, the ministry discussed the pilot project, informing the CSRD that construction will begin as soon as a suitable supplier for the screen can be found.

Smith continues to urge Revelstokians and other residents who rely on the area for transportation to send letters while the netting system is put in place, as further solutions remain her focus.

Letters can be sent via email to premier@gov.bc.ca cc’d to doug.clovechok.mla@leg.bc.ca. Or you can drop off your letter at the MLA’s office at 107 1st St. East.


@NathanKunz1
nathan.kunz@revelstokereview.com

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