Kimberley residents took icy road conditions into their own hands yesterday evening, organizing a group to sand and salt the ‘Overwaitea hill’ (Warren Ave/BC HWY 95A).
Michelle Nex took to the Kimberley Cork Board group on Facebook to gather people after concerns of safety were brought up due to icy road conditions in Kimberley. Nex says she contacted Mainroad, the contractor in charge of plowing roads in East Kootenay, and after several attempts to get in touch with regards to icy roads, she took matters into her own hands.
“I’m just really tired of the lack of a proper response when we call in road conditions and the fact that road conditions are absolutely deplorable, and in some cases treacherous” said Nex. “I called in, they say to call in and they have a response time, but it doesn’t seem that we’re getting much of a response and when we do get a response, it seems like it’s just not working. I think the specs that the government sets are a bit too low. They aren’t what they should be as to what our conditions can be…
“The roads are just terrible, they aren’t safe. I don’t want my children and my grandchildren driving on those roads. I don’t want to lose any more people. It’s just enough; enough is enough,” Nex said.
Nex adds that she drove up the hill several times over the past few days, “sliding all over the place” even with winter tires.
“My daughter also drove up and the same thing happened to her and in fact, she actually ended up almost into oncoming traffic with my grandkids in the car and she also has brand new winter tires,” said Nex.
Nex then said, “I want to stress that it’s not the employees and not the area managers that we’re upset with – they’re doing the job they are told to do. My understanding is they are 95 per cent up to spec, but the spec obviously isn’t good enough.”
Nex, along with several others, gathered at the Save-On (formerly Overwaitea) parking lot around 4:30p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018 with bags of sand and “eco-friendly” salt that Nex says is good up to -28.
Kimberley Police were on scene to ensure the safety of both the group and the drivers, stating that they were fine with the initiative so long as everyone stays on the sidewalk and doesn’t impede traffic in either direction on the hill.
Meanwhile, at a regular City Council meeting later that evening, the topic of road conditions were brought up by several council members.
Councillor Albert Hoglund was the first to speak on the matter.
“I am concerned about the road conditions,” said Hoglund. “I went to Marysville today and I guess the best words I can use to describe is the roads were bloody awful. I didn’t go over 60 kilometres an hour. Coming down the Overwaitea hill was terrible. At the bottom, you didn’t know if you were going to make it. I’m just wondering if we shouldn’t write a letter to Mainroad and explain that we’re concerned about the state of the roads over the last little while.”
Councillor Sandra Roberts agreed saying, “Friday morning after the snowfall I needed to leave to go to Cranbrook and I slid from my house to Wycliffe. It was nothing but white, hard snow. In all the years that I’ve lived in Kimberley I have never driven on a road like that. I’d rather have to replace my windshield or have some dings on it frankly, than have to drive like that. Obviously everyone has to drive slowly but it would be fair to say that you’re driving without any control whatsoever; you’re just sliding along. I’m not surprised how many accidents there have been.”
Oakley says he “completely supports” Councillor Holland’s idea to write a letter, however he thinks it should be in the hands of the MLA in Victoria.
Mayor Don McCormick responded, clarifying that going to Victoria about it is not the path.
“We have a regional MOTI (Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure) office in Cranbrook, and if you’re not happy with Mainroad, that is who is administering that and those are the people you need to go to,” explained McCormick. “I would, I guess, caution, I’m not defending in any way, shape or form, but our entire region had a tonne of snow over the course of a week. Everybody thinks they are the priority. There are only so many plows, as we know within the City here, Mainroad and the Province go through exactly the same thing only they have a much larger territory to cover. We have to be realistic about how long it’s going to take to get that level of service.”
Council continued their discussion, with Roberts and Hoglund saying that the roads are “plowed in time” however, “something needs to be done about the icy conditions.”
Council brought it to a vote to write a letter to the Regional Manager, Ron Sharp at MOTI. The motion was passed with the Mayor voting against.
READ MORE: RDEK Calls for review of highway maintenance.