The board of the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) has given a unanimous thumbs down to a proposal to study the construction of a commercial transportation corridor from Waneta at the U.S. border to Revelstoke through the Arrow Lakes.
“I say no,” said Slocan Valley director Walter Popoff at the board’s Sept. 19 meeting, “and a strong no.”
Directors were responding to recent communication to the Nakusp village council from Dan Ashman, a Trail businessman who is a longtime advocate of the project. It asked council to support a study that would evaluate the economic benefits of the highway project.
The email attempted to sell the council on the highway project study by stating that the RDCK had already voted unanimously to support it.
Joseph Hughes, who represents Nakusp on the RDCK board, said at the Sept. 19 meeting, “I found that to be an absolute misrepresentation of this board. We have had no motion. There was no vote.”
CAO Stuart Horn pointed out that at a 2011 board meeting there was a vote in favour of a study of the feasibility of a bridge over the Arrow Lakes, but nothing about a highway.
Directors Garry Jackman (East Shore), Paul Peterson (Arrow Lakes), and Leah Main (Silverton) spoke against supporting the study or the project.
Proponents of the highway proposal, which has been around for more than 20 years, cite the potential advantages of a trucking corridor for mining, forestry, power distribution, transportation and tourism sectors in B.C. and Washington State. Ultimately the proposal would see the highway extended to Prince Rupert and Alaska.
Such a project would have to be approved and supported by B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.
Ministry staff told the Star no one was available for an interview and sent this prepared statement:
“The ministry has received no recent communications regarding a potential north-south corridor connecting northern Washington state and the West Kootenay.
“However, we always welcome and encourage suggestions from any person or group that has ideas to improve our infrastructure and look for opportunities to grow B.C.’s economy.
“We are not actively considering this idea at this time.”
An earlier version of this story stated that the proponent of the highway project is the Lower Columbia Community Development Team Society. The society has supported the idea of funding a study of that project, but is not its proponent. Also, the earlier version stated that the Slocan Valley or the Arrow Lakes corridors were contemplated as possible routes for the highway, when in fact it is just the Arrow Lakes.