Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Justice Minister Anton points to workshops, improved cel service as progress on Highway of Tears

The theme of issues surrounding the Highway of Tears continues to make for a hot topic for the Liberal Government, with Justice Minister Suzanne Anton providing the Government's latest reply regarding recent concerns over transportation issues on Highway 16.

As we outlined on the blog yesterday, Prince Rupert Mayor Jack Mussallem offered up the municipal review on the issue for Canadian Press, observing that so far the province has not made contact with northern municipalities on the issue of transportation concerns.

A theme that North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice picked up for the Monday afternoon session of the Legislature.

It's been a year and a half since the Missing Women Inquiry called for urgent action to bring in a shuttle bus along the Highway of Tears. When we asked why no action is being taken to bring in the bus, the Transportation Minister insisted that "there have been a tremendous number of discussions and meetings that have been held." 

Yet mayors and First Nations leaders in the region say the province has not met with them. Can the Justice Minister tell this House who is correct: mayors and First Nations leaders or the Transportation Minister?

For her part, the Justice Minister outlined some of what she suggests are the progressive steps taken by the Province so far to address some of those concerns.

Putting aside the suggestion that transportation options need to be addressed, offering up her review of the current options available.

Instead she observes that other actions taken by the province have improved the situation today from that of the past.

The piece of this that we need to remember is that the overarching conclusion for northern highways from Commissioner Oppal was that northern highways have to be safe. That safety is achieved through transportation: through the bus that runs along the highway, through the local transportation services, through the Health Bus, through the train. 

There is transportation. It is also achieved through other ways of making the highway safe, because they have to be safe at all times. That's why there's increased cell phone service. That's why there's improved policing. 

That's why there's a hitchhiking study underway. That's why we've given money to the Carrier-Sekani to do public safety workshops along Highway 16 — because those highways needs to be safe 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The short exchange between Ms. Rice and the Justice Minister can be reviewed from the Legislature Archive at the 1420 mark on the timeline.

The Video Archive also provides coverage of the conversation in the Legislature Chamber.

The Justice Minister's comments in the Legislature of Monday afternoon, follow her thoughts of recent weeks when she proclaimed that Highway 16 has never been safer.  A comment that has for the most part provided a bit of a focus point for those looking for more action from the provincial government.

Highways 'safer' than in the past: B. C.  Liberals
Highway of Tears safe: B. C. Minister
Highway of Tears Safer Today, Minister insists Amid Criticism

For more items on developments at the Legislature see our Archive page.

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