New North Peace Rural Roads Coalition formed

DAWSON CREEK, B.C. – The North Peace Rural Roads Coalition is set to have its first meeting Friday after formi…

DAWSON CREEK, B.C. – The North Peace Rural Roads Coalition is set to have its first meeting Friday after forming earlier this year.

A memorandum of understanding was signed in April, identifying the partnership between Taylor, Hudson’s Hope and the Peace River Regional District’s Electoral Area B.

Jackie Kjos of JK Solutions provided consulting services for the previous task force with the PRRD and will continue working with the coalition after being hired in May.

The previous task force had sat dormant since December 2020, when the contract ended due to funding challenges.

Kjos has been busy collecting information since it has been six months since the group has met.

“I’ve been reviewing budgets; there are quite a few new ministers now.”

The new coalition is expected to meet every couple of weeks and is currently reviewing how the group will operate, said Kjos.

Kjos and another consultant will inspect rural roads, look for particular issues, and then report their findings back to the group. After discussions between the coalition and Kjos, the information will be presented to the Ministry of Transportation.

In March, Taylor Mayor Rob Fraser said securing funding for the task force had been a challenge for the PRRD.  Together, the three districts will set new contracts and annual funding.

Taylor took the helm earlier this year, drafting the MOU and tendering the consulting contract. Each local government will contribute between $50,000 to $150,000 per year, according to the drafter MOU.

The private group will have fewer limitations than the task force being under the PRRD, said Kjos.

“We can bring ministers up for helicopter tours and road tours and say, these are the specific challenges, these are the impacts, this is the economic reason why investing in the northeast makes sense.”

The Coalition aims to mitigate the economic impacts of seasonal load restrictions and lobby for retaining and expanding roads at 100 per cent legal axle loading year-round.

“Not only do we need more roads at 100 per cent, but we need to get the ones back that we had at 100 percent 5 to 10 years ago. That’s what our whole mandate and mantra are about. We do that by working closely with the Ministry of Transportation; we’ve got a really diverse task force,” said Kjos.

“Since this initiative began in the 1990s, we made progress and then in recent years have lost some of the 100 per cent roads such as Beatton Airport and portions of the Montney Highway.”

The task force contains members from several industries, including forestry, agriculture and oil and gas. The members are Art Jarvis, Bob Fedderly, Curtis Rogers, Cheryl Montgomery, Doug MacDonald, Doug Summer, Ernest Wiebe, Jeleena Cawley, Jim Little, Jim Schilling, Lloyd Hayden and Susan Krebs.

“They bring their individual input and really understand the road network. The coalition itself manages the process, but the task force is the real driving force behind it because they’re very diverse,” said Kjos.

 

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