Checking in with the District of Barriere’s mayor – Ward Stamer

District of Barriere Mayor, Ward Stamer. (File Photo)

The Mayor of Barriere, Ward Stamer, has a lot on his mind these days and he’ll be the first to tell you he doesn’t mince words. In his straightforward way of addressing a multitude of issues in the North Thompson in one conversation he won’t hold back.

Stamer along with other representatives from the North Thompson Valley will be meeting with a variety of ministries during the September Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) conference in Vancouver. He’s hoping to address his concerns with regards to the B.C. Wildfire Service action strategies with regards to wildfires. He is standing firm on Highway 5 safety issues, and enforcement including the new mandatory electronic logs for commercial vehicles in B.C. and his push to make dashcams permanent in commercial transportation vehicles.

“The electronic speed limiters don’t stop commercial drivers from speeding on our highway here in the North Thompson. If they are set to 120 km an hour because they are on the Coquihalla, once they get to our corridor, they are still considered to be speeding on this mountainous, mainly single lane roadway. We are in critical need of consistent enforcement in our valley.”

With road conditions changing again in a few months time the mayor is hoping that the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI) will keep the commitment to meet with Simpcw First Nation Chief, George Lampreau and the mayors from Barriere, Clearwater and Valemount as promised following UBCM in September to discuss solutions before driving conditions worsen in winter again.

“We are hoping to point out the need for having an accident reconstruction specialist here in the interior rather than having to wait when there is a crash for someone to be sent up from the lower mainland while the highway is closed for eight or more hours before being reopened. Why does the investigation and clean up take so long? The long waits lead to frustrations and the potential for even more incidents once drivers get going again.”

Stamer understands having detailed investigations for fatal collisions but is concerned at the length of time it takes to reopen the road again to traffic saying, “We have to improve how quickly we can clean up a rock-slide, an accident, or come wintertime that we are prepared. How many new drivers are there on the road that don’t even know how to chain up or drive this type of highway?”

The mayor will be bringing these topics forward to the provincial government during UBCM with the suggestion that commercial drivers should be required in future to take a mountain driving endorsement online along with qualifying at the end of the course with an actual physical test to put on their chains properly if they will be driving winter conditions in B.C. “We don’t even know how many new, inexperienced commercial drivers there are on the road. There is no way to access that data. Being able to identify gaps in new driver training could actually save lives in the long run.”

Stamer appreciates the RCMP, BC Highway Patrol (BCHP) and Commercial Vehicle Safety Enforcement (CVSE) are in the middle of a hiring blitz currently and are short staffed, “We’ve got to be doing something about these out of province drivers though. In B.C. there is no deterrent for these out of province drivers committing driving infractions. There should be a law specifying that if you get a speeding ticket in B.C., it’s transferable to Alberta so when you renew your insurance in Alberta or any other province it’s going to cost you the same amount in points that carry over in your home province. That’s our steppingstone to addressing the safety issues that we experience here with out of province drivers,” he said.

Something the mayor is looking forward to being put to use soon is the newly filled water reservoir stationed at the Louis Creek Industrial Park (LCIP). “We should be able to start using the water from the reservoir shortly, especially during drought conditions like we are seeing this year. We want to do the extra testing to make sure the water is safe and potable before we start using it. It will certainly be welcome back-up,” said Stamer.

The mayor points to the District of Barriere seeing some exciting developments with a new subdivision in town and recent installation of new water lines along with the addition of the new store being opened by Simpcw Resources Group (SRG), the Teniye Local Market, which set to open soon.

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