Wednesday, February 25, 2015

MLA Rice raises questions on Transportation Ministry consultations on Highway 16

There is a bubbling controversy in Victoria this week regarding consultation sessions that the Ministry of Transportation took part in this past summer, conversations related to Transportation issues along British Columbia's Highway 16.

Tuesday in the Legislature, North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice following up on an original question to Minister Todd Stone from the NDP's Maurine Karagianis, raised the issue of some missing documentation with the Government.

With Ms. Rice looking to trace the travels of Ministry representatives this past summer along Highway 16 and seeking an account of their conversations with residents of communities along the way.

The MLA perhaps looking for an itinerary, rough draft notes, or maybe even just marks on a road map signifying stops in a number of communities.

Something that at least will offer up a some solid facts and a record for review, as to the nature of the consultations that took place during the summer visits.

As Ms. Rice relayed in the Legislature, the heart of the controversy involves impressions that Minister Stone has suggested which have local community members indicating that recommendations related to safe, affordable public transportation were not practical.

Those observations, which go against some feedback from the region that the North Coast MLA has received, has led Ms. Rice to seek out further confirmation, by way of a Freedom of Information request regarding those consultations.

During Tuesday's Question Period, the North Coast MLA brought her ongoing interest in that request to the Legislature, pressing the Minister for answers on why the Freedom of Information inquiry has not yet been addressed.

The Minister for his part deflected the nature of the Freedom of Information inquiries, advising that those requests are handled by professionals in the Civil Service, following that up with a list of some of the Provincial government's efforts on the file.

An answer that didn't particularly reassure Ms. Rice that the request is being handled properly.

You can review the full account of the exchange between the North Coast MLA and the Transportation Minister from the Legislature Hansard Record here, it takes place at just before the 1050 marker on the right hand column.

Ms. Rice also provided some further background to her thoughts following the Question Period on Tuesday, seeking a quick response from the Government on the issue.

“The people of Northern British Columbia deserve to know why the B.C. Liberal government is hiding the results of any consultations that were had,” ...“We don’t know how many of these meetings actually took place, and whether the minister is misrepresenting what people said. Northwest communities have heard enough excuses, it’s time for action to bring safe transportation options along the Highway of Tears.”

On Wednesday, the Transportation Minister took to twitter to provide a listing of Community Access  Transportation options across the region.

A helpful list no doubt, but something that isn't quite the same as the Transportation options that have been outlined from the Oppal Report and what MLA Rice wants to see in place across the region.

As of Wednesday evening, the office of the North Coast MLA had not advised as to whether her Freedom of Information inquiry has found any success.

A review of some of the discussion on the topic from last year can be found on our Transportation page. Items related to Highway 16 for 2015 can be found here.

For more items related to developments at the Legislature see our archive page here.

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