The Peace River Regional District renewed the Rural Roads Taskforce on May 7, renaming it to the North Peace Rural Roads Taskforce.

The rebranded economic development initiative is supported by Hudson’s Hope, Taylor, Dawson Creek, and Electoral Area B. Directors Dave Heiberg, Rob Fraser, Dale Bumstead, and Karen Goodings will sit on the committee, representing their respective areas. 

“It does deal significantly with the rural roads in the North Peace, so that is an appropriate addition,” Goodings said of the new name.

Fort St John and Chetwynd will not be joining the taskforce.

The original Rural Roads Taskforce was created in 1997 as part of the North Peace Economic Development Commission to develop, facilitate, and sustain a rural roads process to show the province the economic importance of improving rural roads in Northeast B .C.

It operated until 2005 after millions of dollars in road upgrades. The taskforce was re-established in 2017 through the regional district, but stated that 2019 was a disappointing year.

“After two years of invitations and vague commitments from her office, Minister Claire Trevena has not come to the North Peace to meet the task force and tour area roads,” the task force wrote of the absent transportation minister in their year-end update.

At the time, commitments included fall 2018 maintenance of the Beryl Prairie Road in Hudson’s Hope, which the task force called a “disaster” in 2019. Just one kilometre of that road was improved in 2019, with sub-base work and extra ditching.

Despite the setbacks, 175 lane kilometres of Highway 97 and side roads were resurfaced during the 2019 construction season, as were another 50 lane kilometres of the Milligan Creek Road.

A new pullout was also built on Prespatou Road, while the La Garde Creek Bridge was replaced on Siphon Creek Road. Beryl Prairie, Farrell Creek, and Golata Creek roads were cited as top priorities.

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