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Communications with MOTI a Coast concern

Communications with MOTI a Coast concern

SCRD committee calls for improved communication with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) were “received loud and clear” by MOTIs Lower Mainland District Manager, Elena Farmer. Farmer was one of several ministry representatives that attended the Jan. 21 transportation advisory committee meeting to discuss the Highway 101 Corridor Study.
The study presentation received a rocky reception from the committee. Sechelt Mayor and committee representative Darnelda Siegers said she was displeased with the study timelines, which will allow the ministry up to five years to address “short term” projects. Siegers wants to see failing highway infrastructure addressed sooner. She also asked that the ministry adjust its plans so that projects like highway intersection improvements at Wharf and Inlet can be done in conjunction with municipal infrastructure work at the same location. With design work 90 percent complete, Sechelt is planning to start construction on its project this year.
Siegers’ final comments to the ministry focused on communication issues. The MOTI group participated with voice but no video during the online Zoom platform committee meeting. Siegers asked that they have that video capacity in place in advance of making a similar Zoom-style presentation before Sechelt council. She also asked the local ministry representative to ensure that the dates of upcoming committee meetings were entered into calendars and that a representative attends all future meetings of that group. Farmer acknowledged those requests.
Transportation Choices Sunshine Coast (TraC) committee representative Alun Woolliams also noted that better communication was needed on the ministry’s planning for active transportation projects that it sponsors. He said that such projects often “come as a surprise” to Coast residents. Woolliams would like efforts made to improve ministry/SCRD feedback loops on this and other matters.
Committee members also expressed disappointment with the study’s focus on highway capacity and safety for motor vehicles, with less attention paid to the concerns of cyclists, pedestrians, and transit users. Diana Mumford, the local ferry advisory committee’s representative at the meeting, asked why issues like a lack of safety lighting along the highway were not addressed. Farmer responded that the ministry normally only lights key intersections on its highways. She agreed that discussion of lighting for transit stops along the highway could be discussed as improvement project planning proceeds.
The ministry contracted with Parsons Corporation to undertake the study to explore options to improve the safety and operations of the corridor. The results, including recommendations for implementation of short, medium and long term improvement projects, were released in September 2020. The study is available online at gov.bc.ca.
The report ranks consideration of construction of major highway bypass areas or a new highway as a long-term project. The timing for long-term projects is 35 years into the future.
Following review of the study, the committee considered a request from the Sunshine Coast Highway Society. The committee recommended that the SCRD board write to the province to “confirm its support of the need for a new highway in the very near future.” Connie Jordison

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