Kent, Harrison continue push for emergency route

Mayor says wildfires and boulder prove need for egress

Kent and Harrison municipalities are still pushing for an emergency evacuation route through Sasquatch Provincial Park after years of talk about the need for an alternate route out of Harrison for homes along Rockwell Drive, as well as the thousands of campers that visit the park every year.

Gerald Basten, Kent Harrison emergency program co-ordinator, said multiple scenarios call for a secondary road.

“Depending on where the event happens, whether it be an environmental emergency, whether it’s an earthquake or a fire or a flood, or even a man-made emergency, like a hazardous material spill … the access to the Village of Harrison Hot Springs is compromised [and] they need a second way out.”

Previous road upgrading work by BC Hydro has left approximately 800 metres of road to be completed for full access out of the area and onto Highway 7, according to District of Kent Mayor John Van Laerhoven

“Essentially what’s left is from Deer Lake to the Mahood Creek Bridge,” he said, adding that summer wildfires and the recent rockfall on Rockwell Drive have further proven the need for a route.

“Thankfully last summer, the wildfires were further up the lake,” he said. “That could happen much closer by and people could end up trapped.”

Basten said that, in the past, resistance to the road improvements was based on concerns about increasing commercial traffic or overuse, but the current proposal would see the road gated unless a state of emergency was declared by the Kent or Harrison municipalities.

“No one wants a highway going through the park,” he said. “The proposal is a second-means egress in a state that’s able to be used [but] gated at both ends. At the declaration of either mayor, the gates would be open for use.”

As with all development in provincial parks, planning, partnerships and funding have to be worked out between local and provincial governments.

Van Laerhoven said a recent meeting with Emergency Management B.C., Transportation B.C. and the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, felt “positive.”

“I think there’s more of an appetite from government right now too because of what occurred in the interior this year,” he said, referring to the summer wildfires.

“If we can be proactive about [an emergency], then at the end of the day the dollars spent are spent more fruitfully. We can’t just cross our fingers and say we have an emergency plan but we don’t have a way to make it work.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Firefighters bring Sts’ailes FSR fire under control

Blaze held at bay after burning 15 hectares of land

VIDEO: Chilliwack chicken barn destroyed by fire

Some chickens saved from blaze as firefighters work to control large fire

Harrison Village: Please maintain physical distancing in meetings

Village officials issue reminder of regulations amid continued pandemic measures

Three men face attempted murder charges after Harrison Hot Springs stabbing

Man, 24, sent to hospital with life-threatening injuries following attack Wednesday

Four activists face charges linked to 2019 Abbotsford hog-farm protest

Mischief and break-and-enter charges laid for incidents on four separate days prior to the protest

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

50-year-old time capsule unsealed at Abbotsford International Airport

Capsule sealed by former PM Pierre E. Trudeau in 1970, when event became ‘Canada’s National Airshow’

B.C. wildfire crews have battled 111 blazes in the last seven days

Twenty-nine fires remain active, as of Friday (Aug 7)

‘We don’t make the rules’: Okanagan pub owner says staff harassed over pandemic precautions

‘If you have six people plus a baby, guess what? That’s seven’ - West Kelowna Kelly O’Bryan’s owner

T-Rex earns big bids at B.C. dino auction

Over 500 dino-themed lots sold to buyers from across North America

Remembering Brent Carver: A legend of Broadway who kept his B.C. roots strong

Over the years, the Cranbrook thespian earned his place as one of Canada’s greatest actors

Wrong-way driver triggers multi-vehicle collision on Highway 99 in South Surrey

Police received multiple reports of vehicle heading north in southbound lanes

Statistics Canada says country gained 419,000 jobs in July

National unemployment rate was 10.9 per cent in July, down from the 12.3 per cent recorded in June

Canada plans $3.6 billion in retaliatory tariffs on U.S. in aluminium dispute

The new Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement that replaced NAFTA went into force on July 1

Most Read