The B.C. government has announced its plan for safer transportation along Highway 16

The B.C. government has announced its plan for safer transportation along Highway 16

Security webcams part of B.C. government plan to make Highway of Tears safer

The B.C. government has revealed a $3-million plan for safer transportation along Highway 16 after a symposium in Smithers last month.

Security webcams at bus shelters and funding for communities to launch their own public transit systems are among the measures included in the B.C. government’s $3 million transportation plan for Highway 16, announced today.

At a press conference in Victoria, Transportation Minister Todd Stone revealed a five-point plan based in part on recommendations from a symposium held in Smithers in November.

The biggest sum included the plan is a $1.6 million funding pool for communities to expand their own transit services, and possibly launch new ones.

The Minister proposed three possible routes connecting communities along Highway 16, including one from Burns Lake, Houston, Telkwa and Smithers. A second proposed route would connect Hazelton, Gitsegukla, Kitwanga and Terrace, and a third route would travel between Burns Lake, Fraser Lake, Vanderhoof and Prince George.

Another $750,000 in grants will be available over three years for communities to purchase and operate vehicles, as well as $150,000 for a First Nations driver education program. The government will also invest $500,000 over two years to install webcams and upgrade transit shelters for security reasons.

The fifth part of the plan is a commitment to foster greater collaboration between organizations including BC Transit, Northern Health and not-for-profit groups.

An advisory council whose members include the mayors of Burns Lake and Houston will meet early in 2016. Their job will be to develop a process through which communities can apply for the funding.

“Partnering with local governments, First Nations communities and organizations, the Ministry is ensuring they are active participants with a vested interest in selecting the transportation services that best meet their needs,” said Minister Stone.

More to come in next week’s Interior News.