Recent History 2000-2002
July 12, 2002
DAWSON CREEK — Transportation Minister Judith Reid kicked off her tour of the province to discuss challenges facing her department with stops in the Peace Thursday.
Reid, meeting with elected representatives in Fort St. John and Dawson Creek, outlined problems the province is facing and sought feedback on what options should be considered to meet those challenges.
With a reduction in her department’s budget, yet continuing needs to improve the province’s transportation system, some innovative solutions need to be developed.
“There isn’t enough money in (the transportation budget) to meet our future needs,” Reid said.
“I laid out my budget and what the priorities are — the priorities are safety on the roads and maintaining the infrastructure that we already have,” she said. “But obviously we have need for increase in capacity in different places or there’s been changes in the use of roads so the status quo doesn’t meet the needs any more.”
Reid said improving transportation is imperative to improving the province’s economy.
“Obviously in this area it’s absolutely apparent that you can’t get to your fields, you can’t haul your trucks if you don’t have the transportation network.”
According to information provided by Reid, more than $10 billion in highway improvement needs have been identified by the Ministry of Transportation.
“So the question is what do people want the government to do in order to meet those needs?” Reid said.
Some ideas that have been discussed for road projects include partnerships with businesses, municipalities and the federal government, as well as the possibility of tolls and using different standards.
She said that regional transportation authorities, when they are created, will give people input into such decisions in their areas.
“People believe that we can use our dollars more wisely,” Reid said. “At a time when your dollars are scarce, you have to make sure those dollars are spent absolutely as best as possible.
“This next year in the north here, we’re spending $100 million on the roads and I’m sure there won’t be anyone that says, ‘That’s fine, you can go away now and you don’t have to do anything more.’”
Reid said tolls are unlikely for Northern B.C.
“There’s only certain places in the province where that works — obviously you need high volumes of traffic, so here in the north it’s not going to be a solution for our problems.”
While people have asked Reid about gas taxes, the $730 million the province collects is well below the province’s transportation, which comes in at over $1 billion.