TAYLOR, B.C. – Peace River South MLA Mike Bernier says the Taylor Bridge needs to be replaced now and is curious why the province is conducting another study.
“Every single person knows its reached its lifespan. It needs to be replaced. We want to have a consultation to make sure there’s input from trucker associations, user groups in the district and others, obviously. But that should not mean consultation for a decision. We know what the decision should be,” said Bernier.
The province announced Wednesday that a technical advisory group would be created later this summer. Stakeholders with ‘technical interest’ are invited to join and add their input on a potential long-term solution for the bridge.
Bernier, North Peace MLA Dan Davies and MP Bob Zimmer have been advocating for federal funding for some time.
“We were starting to get some optimistic signs, we thought, from the province that they were moving forward with some kind of plan with the bridge, because there’s no surprise, again, that it needs to be replaced.”
Bernier believes the province is dragging this on for some reason, potentially, to avoid spending a large sum of money. He says the Ministry of Transportation did a study a few years ago.
“They looked at whether they could hard surface it. The engineering reports came back and showed that it would not withstand any substantial wait to get rid of the steel grading system and make it hard surface. At that point, the discussion was the only long-term plan, obviously, would be to replace the bridge.”
“‘It’s concerning to me that they’re just delaying the inevitable.”
The group won’t be costly, according to Bernier, but says at the end of the day; it’s about the right decision.
Comparing the decision to the caribou recovery public consultation, Bernier says the provincial government likes to ‘pretend’.
“We saw how that played out with the caribou discussion in the region and land use for caribou protection when they said they would consult and listen to all of the user groups and municipalities when the writing was on the wall before those discussions even started.”
The next year will be all about advocacy, says Bernier, as there is no money in this year’s budget for the bridge.
“People need to realize we need to get on the planning and acknowledging that we need the funds in the budget now. Because if it takes four or five years before you can actually put shovels in the ground, I mean, we can’t wait that long we need to get started.”
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