B.C. commits $3 million to improve safety along Highway of Tears

VICTORIA -- Enhanced transit routes, expanded driver-training programs and more roadside webcams make up the core of a multimillion-dollar plan aimed at improving safety along a stretch of British Columbia highway renowned for missing and murdered women.

See Full Article

B.C.'s Transport Minister Todd Stone announced a long-awaited $3-million strategy for the so-called Highway of Tears on Monday, saying delays in government action were the result of extensive consultation with local stakeholders.

"I would have liked to have been making this announcement many, many, many months ago, but we needed to go through this rigorous process of engagement and discussion," said Stone. "Today is about transitioning from the discussion to action."

Eighteen women, many of them aboriginal, have disappeared or been murdered along Highway 16 or adjacent routes since the 1970s. The infamous 750-kilometre span of road meanders through an isolated region of B.C.'s Interior, between Prince Rupert and Prince George.

Stone's announcement comes shortly after the federal government went public with plans to launch a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women. Many who have called for the inquiry have highlighted the tragic history of the Highway of Tears.

An RCMP report stated last year nearly 1,200 aboriginal women were murdered or went missing across Canada between 1980 and 2012.

Monday's announcement in B.C. committed $1.6 million over two years on a cost-sharing basis with communities to extend pre-existing transit along Highway 16.

An additional $750,000 over three years will go towards helping communities buy and operate transit vehicles, as well as $150,000 over three years to increase the number of licensed drivers in First Nations communities.

The province earmarked a final $500,000 in infrastructure funding over two years to install more transit shelters and highway webcams.

"In addition to enhancing the actual transportation options that people have in the corridor, we want people to also know that we have an eye on safety as well," said Stone.

Overseeing the program's implementation is an advisory panel, made up of representatives from the province, local governments, health authorities and First Nations.

Burns Lake Mayor Luke Strimbold, who is part of the advisory group, said the $3-million funding announcement marks historic progress in improving safety along Highway 16.

"Our communities now have a framework we can work towards to implement transportation solutions," said Strimbold.

First Nations Health Authority spokesman Richard Jock is also on the board and shared Strimbold's optimism. He emphasized the opportunity to improve access to health care for people living in remote communities.

"We're looking forward to working in particular with our northern health partners to see how this can really be part of effective transportation response in the North," he said.

Smithers Mayor Taylor Bachrach spoke positively about the government's plan, but at the same time raised concerns.

"The key question is whether the amount of resources that are being put on the table are going to be adequate to fix the problem," he said.

"I'm not sure that $1.6 million over two years is going to provide affordable, accessible transportation for all of the small communities in our region. The problem is somewhat larger."

New Democrat member of the legislature and northern health critic Jennifer Rice questioned if the plan's cost-sharing approach would be financially feasible for all northern communities.

"Families of murdered and missing women have been waiting for some action for well over a decade," she said.

"But having some money put towards improving transportation in the North is positive."

Stone said the government will have a better idea about how the funding will be distributed after the advisory panel meets with local groups and reports back to him by early March.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Iranian parliament labels entire U.S. military as terrorist

    World News CTV News
    TEHRAN, Iran -- Iranian media say the parliament has approved a bill that labels all U.S. military forces as terrorist. The legislation is a step further after Iranian lawmakers last week approved a bill labelling U.S. Source
  • Preparations underway for Kim-Putin summit in Russia

    World News CTV News
    MOSCOW -- Preparations are underway for a summit between the leader of North Korea and Russia's president, Russian officials and media reported Tuesday. The Kremlin confirmed earlier this month that Kim Jong Un would meet with President Putin before the end of the month but has not named the place or date, citing security concerns. Source
  • Judge to sentence man who killed daughter, 5, to make estranged wife suffer

    Canada News CTV News
    ST. JOHN'S, N.L. -- A Newfoundland man who killed his five-year-old daughter in what the Crown said was a calculated plan to inflict suffering on his estranged wife will be sentenced today. A jury convicted Trent Butt of first-degree murder in March in the death of his daughter Quinn. Source
  • New commemorative loonie marking 'progress' for LGBTQ2 people to be unveiled today

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- The Royal Canadian Mint is unveiling a new commemorative loonie today meant to mark what it calls a key milestone for lesbian, gay, transgender, queer and two-spirited people in the country. The agency says the new one-dollar coin pays tribute to Parliament's passing of legislation that "initiated the decriminalization of homosexuality in Canada. Source
  • Ceremonies, vigils planned in Toronto to honour victims of deadly van attack

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Ceremonies and vigils are planned today to honour those killed or injured in last year's deadly van attack in north Toronto. The City of Toronto is holding an event at the Mel Lastman Square Amphitheatre at 1:30 p.m. Source
  • Strong voter turnout expected in Prince Edward Island provincial election

    Canada News CTV News
    CHARLOTTETOWN -- It's election day in Prince Edward Island and voter turnout is expected to be strong. More than 36 per cent of eligible voters have already cast their ballots in the advance polls, in a province that traditionally sees voter turnout at more than 80 per cent. Source
  • 'New IRA' admits killing Northern Ireland journalist

    World News CTV News
    LONDON -- An Irish Republican Army splinter group has admitted that one of its "volunteers" killed journalist Lyra McKee, who was shot dead while reporting on rioting in Londonderry. In a statement issued Tuesday to the Irish News, the New IRA offered "full and sincere" apologies to McKee's family and friends. Source
  • Woman arrested in slaying of Northern Ireland journalist: police

    World News CTV News
    LONDON -- The Northern Ireland Police Service said Tuesday they have arrested a woman under the Terrorism Act in connection with the slaying of journalist Lyra McKee. The arrest of the 57-year-old under the Terrorism Act came as an Irish Republican Army splinter group admitted that one of its "volunteers" killed journalist McKee, who was shot dead while reporting on rioting in Londonderry. Source
  • Woman arrested in killing of Northern Ireland reporter

    World News CBC News
    The Northern Ireland Police Service says they have arrested a woman under the Terrorism Act in the slaying of journalist Lyra McKee. The 57-year-old woman was arrested Tuesday under the terrorism act. An Irish Republican Army splinter group earlier admitted that one of its "volunteers" killed McKee, who was shot dead while reporting on rioting in Londonderry. Source
  • P.E.I. heads to the polls today — and it could make history

    Canada News CBC News
    Islanders are voting today in an election campaign unlike any other in P.E.I.'s history. It marks the first three-way race in a province long beholden to a two-party system, and has the Green Party hoping to make an unprecedented breakthrough. Source