Monday December 13, 2021 | VICTORIA, BC
by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
The State of Emergency in BC that was first called on November 17 in response to the extreme flooding has been extended again today. The two-week extension announced today by Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth now takes the state of emergency through December 28, 2021.
This is the third State of Emergency in BC this year. The first two were of course for management of the ongoing COVID public health emergency and in summer the wildfires.
Severe flooding due to rainfall and river overflows (including due to dikes failing) caused considerable damaged to several BC highways, and four lives were lost due to landslides.
Farnworth today thanked all British Columbians for abiding by the 30-litre retail gasoline fueling limitation. That order will be lifted effective tomorrow (December 14).
“The people of British Columbia stepped up,” said Farnworth. “Every one of you played your part.”
Cooperation by all British Columbians allowed for emergency responders to do what they needed to do, that emergency and commercial vehicles could get through, and that those directly impacted in the flooded areas could be assisted.
“We succeeded because people did the right thing,” said Farnworth re the gasoline supply management and overall emergency response. He added: “We are confident in the supply chain.”
Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Rob Fleming said that repairs to the Coquihala are moving along quickly, and that the major BC Interior highway might be open sooner than earlier stated (i.e. sooner than mid-January 2022). An update is coming this Wednesday, December 15, which Fleming said will include the scope of repairs and timeline to open for commercial traffic.
Fleming commended the BC “road builders” for meeting high standards and working so quickly. Twenty sites along a stretch of 130 km are being repaired, said Fleming today. The Coquihalla Highway is in total 543 km long.
“It’s a point of pride,” is how Fleming described the commitment of the road building teams, including engineers, suppliers, workers and trade unions.
Fleming saw the damaged areas himself in person “72 hours ago”, on Friday (before this past weekend), saying “the damage was substantial”.
Over 2 ft of snow on the Coquihalla this past weekend is just one indication of how impactful that weather conditions can be. Paving can’t be done during snowy weather.
People are still expected to only undertake essential travel this holiday season, said Fleming. “Stay home and stay local,” he said.
“Winter gatherings are problematic right now,” Fleming said regarding the ongoing COVID pandemic (with the new Omicron variant in the mix).
Highway 3 may be open to general traffic by this Wednesday, December 15, the Transportation and Infrastructure Minister said. Drivers who are unfamiliar with that route may find the driving conditions challenging, it was suggested.
Zero tolerance for speeding:
About 3,000 trucks per day are travelling on Highway 3 from Hope to Princeton. Among those, 116 have received speeding tickets this month. “Zero tolerance” is the approach to speeding.
This past weekend, a commercial truck that passed another truck on a double yellow line caused the trucking company to have their licence suspended.