Friday, November 27, 2015

Transportation Minister Stone to deliver Highway 16 options in near future

Following this weeks Highway of Tears symposium held in Smithers, the Province's Transportation and Highways Minister Todd Stone provided some hints as to the immediate steps that he has in mind to address the many issues raised, not only at the symposium but over the last few years.

With suggestions that the province may provide some assistance to volunteer van drivers between the isolated communities of the Northwest, as well as expand the use of the Northern Health Medical bus for transportation options.

“This transportation symposium was an important step in finding solutions that work for the people in these communities, and I’m pleased to say, a lot of good work came out of this day-long collaboration,” ...“We’re now going to turn the discussions into action and to work on a plan that provides an effective model for transportation along the highway as quickly as possible.” -- Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Todd Stone on this week's Highway 16 symposium

And while a statement by the Transportation Minister seems to suggest that there appears to have been some constructive discussion and exchange of ideas on the theme of the many issues related to the Highway corridor, there is still one large issue to be resolved that of the options of transportation available in the region.

And that appears to be one area where the Minister remains intransigent when it comes to the concept of introducing a shuttle bus along the Highway 16 corridor,  a theme that is an often made recommendation, and one that on Thursday Mr. Stone again stated was "a non-starter".

That most likely won't sit well with North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice, who has made the shuttle option the key element of her frequent comments and questions on the issue in the Legislature.

Ms. Rice has been busy this week with a string of media appearances related to Highway 16 issues, making note of the lack of an official invitation to the symposium, though she did attend the event anyways as an observer.

So far however, she has not issued a statement or comment related to Minister Stones comments of Thursday through any of her usual platforms of her website, twitter feed or Facebook page.

Though in comments to the Canadian Press on Thursday, the MLA noted that she was disappointed that Stone continues to reject a regional shuttle bus, observing that "people have been calling for that for quite a long time", adding that "we spend more money on twinning highway."

As for Mr. Stone, while many across the Northwest have made their case for the need of a shuttle bus for the region, the Transportation Minister has yet to articulate why, other than what appears to be a rather tone deaf example of political stubbornness ( a growing trait of the Liberals of late), he is so against the notion, or why it remains something that he considers a 'non-starter'.

Perhaps he could expand on his reasons why he's so against the plan, when he delivers his updated transportation ideas in the days to come.

Some background on the Smithers symposium can be found below:

B. C. Transportation minister says changes coming to Highway of Tears
Stone says changes to Highway of Tears coming
Smithers Highway of Tears gathering: another roadblock or road to bus line?
Mixed reactions from Tuesday's Transportation Symposium
Minister promises action after Smithers symposium on Highway of Tears
Mixed reaction to Highway 16 Transportation Symposium
Todd Stone says he didn't attend Highway of Tears meetings, because he didn't want them politicized (audio)
Spoke and hub transit model bay be workable for Highway of Tears, says Rustad
Smithers Transportation Symposium being called a Success by Minister
Stone on Highway Transportation (video)
Highway 16 Symposium reaction (video)

You can review more of Ms. Rice's work on the Highway 16 issues from our Legislature Archive.

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