By David F. Rooney
It may be possible to pry some money out of the federal government to assist with the reconstruction of the Highway Rescue Truck, MP David Wilks told the Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, January 22.
“My promise to you is that I will talk to the Minister of the Environment, Leona, Aglukkag,” he said during a luncheon at Ginger and Spice.
Wilks, who was in town to meet constituents and dine with Chamber members said he will also raise the issue with Parks Canada CEO Alan Latourelle.
Wilks said the fact that the HRT responds to scores of serious accidents that occur on the Trans-Canada Highway where it passes through Mount Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks means the federal government should make an effort to help get the vehicle back on the road after the accident last month that send it rolling down a mountain slope.
The province has already said it won’t provide any assistance. This offer from Wilks to take this local issue to Ottawa. The truck was acquired by the Highway Rescue Society after a fund-raising campaign that yielded about $200,000 from the people, clubs and business of Revelstoke.
Wilks has already taken the entire Trans-Canada issue to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Finance Minister James Flaherty. He said he told the two most powerful men in the country that the TCH could be fixes for between $1.5 and $2 billion spread out over 25 years. The federal budget will be unveiled in about a month and Wilks, who says he saw too many ugly highway accidents during his six years as a Mountie based in Golden, hopes there will be Trans-Canada improvement money in the national financial plan.
“They didn’t say ‘No,'” he told the Chamber. “If I’m not successful this year then I’ll try again next year. It has to get done.”
The Conservative Party MP for Kootenay Columbiaand former mayor of Sparwood also spoke briefly about changes to the riding’s boundaries. Nelson, Kaslo and Salmo are being added to the riding and Nakusp is being taken away. This increases the population to 108,000 from 88,000 and its total area from 63,000 km2 to 75,000 km2. This change takes effect the moment that the writ is dropped for the next general federal election, expected in 2015. It also means that Revelstoke goes from being the second largest city in the riding after Cranbrook to the third position after Nelson, which has a population of over 10,000.
Wilks also answered questions about the highway and the need for better enforcement of railway safety regulations.