The BC Grain Producers Association wants to take a closer look at road maintenance in Dawson Creek, and says Mile Zero roads are in rough shape, with decade old damage in some spots.
Former association director Garnet Berg approached the Peace River Regional District on July 15 during their Electoral Area Directors Committee meeting, noting he’ll be chairing a committee for the association to review road maintenance.
“My concern is the road maintenance in the area, specifically north where I drive. But I’m sure it’s the same everywhere else,” said Berg.
“It’s just horrendous, between Dawson and Sweetwater there was at least ten soft spots – you have drive in the ditch to get around,” he added of road 217.
Berg says he’s spoken to the Ministry of Transportation and Argo Road Maintenance, who holds the contract through the province, but has struggled to get traction with both.
"There's no proactive work being done, there's no recourse. They contract someone to do a culvert and they don't go back and make sure it's done right. Or they pay someone to go back and do it again - I don't know what the story is," he said. "The whole thing is not good and I don't know how you correct it."
He added the committee aims to approach both Argo and the ministry for meetings, and if needed, speaking with Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham and Minister of Transportation Rob Fleming.
“In the past when we’ve done that, it seems to have got results. We don’t seem to be getting any right at the moment,” said Berg.
Berg says there’s a standard defined in the contract for road maintenance, but has never gotten a clear answer other than roads are maintained by class.
“Nobody seemed to know. And my question is if you don’t know what the class of that road is or what the specs are, how do you know if it’s been graded right?”
Ditching is also an issue, says Berg, noting several culverts are full of mud or have been snipped by graders in the winter.
He added these items have been brought to the attention of Argo and the ministry to no avail.
“There’s holes in the roads that don’t get fixed, they stick a cone in them for a while. Some of them have been there for ten years, and they’re actually a safety hazard,” said Berg.
Area E Director Dan Rose says the association should begin documenting the situation and responses, avoiding a ‘he said, she said’ dilemma, noting Argo is required under their contract to address complaints in a timely manner.
"That's the favoured response of everybody, including us sometimes. Document it. Verbal doesn't work anymore, you have to have a way to track it," said Rose.
Rose also feels ministry oversight should be done independently.
"It should be contracted out - most ministry folks are on a career ladder as well, you don't kick the rung out or rattle the ladder if you expect to, I worry about that," he said.
Berg says the new committee will secure funding to properly document any meetings with government or Argo.
Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative. Email Tom at email@example.com