McKee says TCH safety improvements are coming; Macdonald's not so sure

By David F. Rooney
While the ultimate twinning of the Trans-Canada Highway will take years to complete, the province is committed to improving safety along the ket transportation corridor, says Mayor Mark McKee.
Fresh from a trip to Victoria he told a gathering of local BC Liberals on Wednesday evening, February 18, that government leaders regard a series of recommendations made by Revelstoke as “a common sense approach to highway safety issues.”
McKee travelled to the capital for a meeting with Infrastructure Minister Todd Stone, Justice Minister Susan Anton and Energy Minister Bill Bennett.
He told local Liberals who met at Zala’s that the government is already pursuing a recommendation that it station a coroner in Revelstoke. It is also stationing new traffic analysts in Golden and Enderby. Traffic analysts reconstruct major accidents that result in serious injuries or death. McKee had wanted a traffic analyst in Revelstoke but noted that analysts in Golden or Enderby will at least be relatively close to our community.
The government is also going to pursue the creation of a variable speed zone along the TCH west of town. Variable speed zones feature electronic signs that change the permitted speed according to environmental changes.
Having a coroner here and a traffic analyst relatively nearby could help reduce the extent of highway closures due to major accidents from four to two hours. Having better incident management procedures and by implementing a clear procedure for informing stranded travellers about the length of a highway closure would also be useful, McKee said.
The document the City presented to Stone when he visited Revelstoke a couple of weeks ago addressed four key areas:

  • Highway closures;
  • Actions to improve road safety, including more truck inspections and truck driver training and certification;
  • Accident management; and
  • Highway rescue services.

But where McKee was upbeat about thee signs of progress on the Trans-Canada safety issue, MLA Norm Macdonald criticized the BC Liberals.
“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 post-budget statement.
Macdonald claimed that nearly $1 billion over four years were given away in this budget to the wealthiest British Columbians, money that could have made a significant difference if spent on highway improvements in Columbia River Revelstoke.
“The BC Liberals have made their priorities crystal clear: a billion dollars for millionaires is more important than the safety of citizens travelling on the Trans Canada Highway,” he said.
“The big news of this budget is that the top 2% of income earners are getting a $230 million tax break. That’s nearly a billion dollars given away in just four years. Imagine what a billion dollars could do in education, on our highways, or in raising children out of property. But instead, if you earn a million dollars, Christy Clark is giving you a $17,000 bonus.”
The MLA for Columbia River-Revelstoke drew a parallel between the amount provided in assistance for a person with a disability and the amount of money being given away to the richest people in our province. A person on provincial Person with Disability (PWD) benefits receives $906 per month for a total of $10,872 per year, more than $6,000 less than the amount of this tax break.
“And if you are injured or develop a debilitating illness, you will be pushed into a state of poverty that even Conservative Alberta does not tolerate,” he said. “At least in Alberta, PWD rates are nearer to $20,000 a year.”