The Municipal Council of Fort St James is informing the public of initiatives under way in the area to address highway safety concerns. This is partly in response to the recent stoppage of traffic on Highway 27 through Nak’azdli Reserve #1 on January 11 and 12, and the subsequent press release from Nak’azdli band council.
Municipal council agrees with the band council that there are many safety issues in our communities and on our roads that concern everyone. There are many individuals and groups that have been working tirelessly to address these issues to improve highway safety and prevent another tragic incident such as the one that occurred on November 4, 2011.
The following is a list of some of the efforts to date by various groups: Angel Ransom, Comprehensive Community Plan Coordinator for Nak’azdli Band, has conducted two meetings to discuss various traffic safety concerns, which were attended by individuals representing RCMP, Ministry of Transportation and Industry (MOTI), contractors, First Nations, local governments, and interested members of the public.
Gretchen Vogelsang, a Pinchi Lake Road resident, facilitated a meeting on November 22, 2011, to raise awareness of safety concerns with the heavy traffic on the Germanson Hwy. (North Road) and how we can develop a common code of courtesy for the users of this road.
Mrs. Madhok’s Grade 6 class at Sowchea Elementary School began their “Be Seen, Be Safe” reflective bracelet campaign which expects to raise enough money to buy and distribute to each and every child in our region a reflective arm band to be worn at all times for safety reasons.
The transportation ministry has provided portable speed reader boards that display drivers’ speed and remind them to keep within the speed limit.
The local RCMP detachment has increased speed enforcement and has purchased radar meters.
Pullouts on Highway 27 were made in 2010 and 2011 as a direct result of local government lobbying.
Municipal council during the past term (2009-2011) participated in local and regional road safety meetings, and last September met with MOTI rep, Blair Lekstrom to submit a detailed report on the present and anticipated increases in traffic through the Fort St. James area. They urged the ministry to make appropriate infrastructure and maintenance improvements to Hwy. 27, including north, south and through town. The possibility of a bypass industrial route was also discussed. The transportation ministry committed to working with the community to improve the highway.
MLA, John Rustad noted he would push for funding the planned improvements in the 2012 provincial budget.
The newly elected mayor and council, as part of their commitment during the recent election campaign, have formed a transportation committee, co-chaired by councillor Joan Burdeniuk and Councillor Russ Gingrich along with representatives from local governments and first nations, RCMP, Chamber of Commerce, Ministry of Forests, School District No. 91, among others, will gather as many ideas to solve safety concerns for the region. They will set firm goals for the community to pursue, under a single umbrella organization. Council has contributed $500 towards a safety reminder sign on the highway, and $1,000 towards Sowchea’s bracelet campaign.
For more information please contact the district of Fort St. James by phone:250-996-8233 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org