Road safety picket in Fort St. James gets province and industry attention

A roadblock slowing traffic on highway 27 entrance into Fort St. James was removed early last Thursday evening

A roadblock slowing traffic on highway 27 entrance into Fort St. James was removed early last Thursday evening under provincial government and police assurance that action would be taken to do something soon to address serious safety gaps on that route. The ad hoc group that set up the “information gateway,” slowed traffic most of the day so they could hand out literature about local traffic mayhem that has seen the death of a local child and a number of close calls in recent months.

A surge in industry traffic from fast-growing mining and lumber company vehicles along with regular traffic, freight and commerce are putting a lot of pressure on the small community road in Fort St. James.

“The issue can be summed up in one word SAFETY,” a press statement quoted one Fort St. James man, Pete Erickson as having said.

The Nak’azdli Band Council press release dated January 12 emphasized the band did not plan or set up the roadblock but added, “We understand the frustration community members are feeling.”

The letter underlined that highway safety has been an issue for the community for years, noting that in spite of talking to both provincial federal governments about this on several occasions,  the band and resident concerns seem to have fallen on deaf ears.

There were some promises being talked up by the Ministry of Transportation and Industry while trucking and logging company representatives were reported to be interested in being included to work on a solution.

The Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad said he was part of the discussion around bringing the roadblock down, along with RCMP representatives and others.

“After talking with them for about two hours the info picket was lifted,” Rustad said.

“We don’t want to see tempers flaring and incidents, but it takes time.”

He added that communication lines could have been better and he will make a point to work on those lines of communication for the future.