An initiative by a regional director to discuss safety concerns at Springbrook Road and Highway 101, south of Powell River, with the provincial minister of transportation and infrastructure did not gain traction at a recent qathet Regional District board meeting.
On July 30, a resolution from the committee of the whole was introduced after Electoral Area B director Mark Gisborne had been advocating for a teleconference meeting with Claire Trevena, the minister of transportation and infrastructure, regarding safety concerns at Springbrook Road. The regional board was to consider a motion that the board book a meeting with Trevena in conjunction with ministerial meetings that occur each year connected to the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) annual convention in September.
Speaking to the motion, Gisborne said the matter was discussed as a potential topic of discussion with the minister prior to last year’s UBCM, but it was dropped from the list. Gisborne said he still gets the occasional piece of correspondence about what is going on.
“The local highways manager has stated they don’t have the money and unless there is more development in the area, they are not going to be able to do anything about it,” said Gisborne. “Unfortunately, according to our official community plan, I don’t see how much more development will occur. It’s a manufactured home park.”
Gisborne said there are a number of potential options to fix the safety issues. He thought it was worth bringing before the minister to get her people to look at creative solutions and come back to the regional district as to what type of development would be required before the problem could be fixed.
“Between Springbrook Road and Duck Lake Road, which is a couple of hundred metres, it has the highest accident rate outside of the city limits the last time I checked,” said Gisborne. “I think it’s worthwhile.”
Electoral Area C director Clay Brander said he contacted Powell River RCMP staff sergeant Rod Wiebe about the Springbrook Road intersection. Wiebe’s response was there were two motor vehicle incidents in 2017 and one in 2019 at that location.
“Two were from drivers not paying attention and one slid off the roadway in icy conditions,” said Brander. “Injuries were not serious and all were driver error. [Wiebe] would not classify this as a dangerous intersection.
“He suggests maybe some signs would ease the concerns of residents for vehicles to expect turning vehicles. It might be more appropriate that this issue be brought up at the quarterly ministry of transportation and infrastructure (MOTI) meeting when they resume, rather than in a meeting with the minister. I’ll be voting against this.”
Gisborne said the response from MOTI has been it will not do anything further until there is more development in the area.
“They believe there is some risk there and that is why they installed some overhead street lighting,” said Gisborne. “The complaint I heard from residents in response to the light being put up was that all of the accidents so far have been during daylight hours.”
Electoral Area A director and board chair Patrick Brabazon said he concurred with Brander on this issue.
“Police have made it quite clear that this is not considered a dangerous intersection from their point of view, and if the solution is better signage, as proposed, then the place to bring up signage, surely, is with our MOTI staff,” said Brabazon. “I’m very reluctant to go to the minister and ask for some signs. I don’t think going to the minister is a wise move.”
Brabazon said the regional district already has a letter going to the ministry regarding highway improvements in general.
Gisborne said residents are not asking for signage. They are asking for a turning lane, a one-way road next to the golf course, or perhaps a road from the Duck Lake intersection.
“None of those are signage issues and it has already been brought up with MOTI, so if you vote against it, nothing is going to happen,” said Gisborne.
Gisborne and Electoral Area E director Andrew Fall voted for a meeting with the minister, but the rest of the board voted against it, so the motion was defeated.