Local Liberals to press for TCH improvements

By David F. Rooney

Peter Bernacki, Revelstoke vice-president for the BC Liberals’ Columbia River Revelstoke Riding Association, says he will press Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Blair Lekstrom for a commitment to improve the Trans-Canada Highway.

“That’s my No. 1 beef,” he said in an interview this week. “We have to do something. People won’t plan on coming to Revelstoke if they think they’ll be trapped here.”

Bernacki said he plans to lobby Lekstrom and other cabinet ministers, perhaps even Premier Christy Clark, when he and Merv Krywa attend a BC Liberal convention in Penticton next weekend.

Bernacki said the number of days — 29 — that the TCH was shut down due to avalanches due this past winter had a significant impact on the local economy.  The sense that Revelstoke is a place where you can find yourself physically cutoff from the rest of the world may deter visitors in the winter. Bernacki is not alone in this. Revelstoke Mountain Resort’s Rod Kessler appeared before City Council two weeks ago to ask Council to lobby senior levels of government for highway improvements.

A few years ago, when Mark McKee was mayor, mayors from the Alberta border to Ashcroft banded together to lobby for improvements. The province said it was spend $150 million a year to improve the TCH — but only if the federal government would match those funds. Ottawa and Victoria did spend millions to improve the Kicking Horse Canyon section but little has been earmarked for improving the rest of the TCH along that stretch of highway.

Bernacki said he is very willing to raise other issues with provincial cabinet ministers at the convention and said people with significant issues should call him at 250-837-1462.