It's the 700-metre headache and a millions-dollar question: When will a new Taylor Bridge be built?
Peace River North candidates Dan Davies and Trevor Bolin were asked at the Oct. 14 public forum to identify three things they and their party would do to advocate for the replacement of the Taylor Bridge. Here are their responses:
Dan Davies: “I have met with the Minister of Transportation I can’t even remember how many times, constantly, in fact. I see the Minister walking the hallways in the legislature and I just randomly yell ‘Taylor Bridge!’ at her, to make sure that it’s always on her mind.
“Every budget debate we’ve had, that Taylor Bridge is brought up by myself and my colleague in Peace River South. We have written letters to the federal government, we’ve even written letters to the state of Alaska as well as Yukon, because the Taylor Bridge is a significant piece of infrastructure, not just for us, but it also provides a transportation network for our neighbours to the north.
“I’m trying to get as much pressure on our provincial government to move this bridge forward and I’m happy to say we have had some movement. Just recently, a public consultation phase as well as looking at costing for options on that bridge. So, continued advocacy with the ministers, continued working with our partners in different levels of government.
“The minister has not come up here in her three and a half years to see the area, we have been trying. I work with the Rural Roads Task Force, we have been trying to get the Minister of Transportation up here to see the bridge that has gone from annual maintenance to monthly maintenance to now pretty much biweekly maintenance happening on that bridge.
“With the amount of commerce that goes back and forth on that bridge, and the important piece that provides for us and the Yukon and Alaska, it is something that must be a priority. Myself and my colleague Mike Bernier have both committed 100% that is the top infrastructure project that both of us will be focusing on going forward.”
Trevor Bolin: “I drive that bridge three days a week and I have for quite a number of years as I go between the communities in the North Peace and the South Peace.
“Ten years ago, Gordon Campbell at that point in time was the premier and leader of the BC Liberal party, and he came up and he sat in the Pomeroy Sport Centre, the Enerplex at that point in time as we were opening it for a special ceremony, and he told us without a doubt they would allow a bridge to be put over Site C dam. And with this bridge being over Site C dam, it would relieve the pressure on the Taylor Bridge and give them the ability that they needed and the time that they needed in order to replace the Taylor Bridge.
“And that plan had stayed forward up until such a point in time where myself and others had presented to the joint review committee on Site C, where we found that plan was completely scrapped.
“You got to get them here to look at the bridge, you got to help them to understand how important that bridge is. Yes, we send a lot of stuff on rail and pipelines and air, but at the end of the day if we can’t get in and out of our communities safely, including Fort St. John, Fort Nelson, Taylor, Dawson Creek, the large amount of products coming in should scare people if something were to happen.
“If you look at COVID and the fact that the grocery store shelves were empty for days and weeks on end, now imagine losing that bridge. Imagine losing the one point that we’ve got in order to start bringing this cargo in that we don’t manufacture ourselves.
“I honestly think if a person sat down and ensured that the government knew how important this was for people’s essential services and their lives in Fort St. John, I think we’d be able to pull off a project that we’re seeing done in other cities, we’re seeing done in other communities. Why not us, why not the North Peace, why so long?”
Danielle Monroe, candidate for the NDP, did not attend the forum, and has not responded to press inquiries.
General voting day is Oct. 24 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at firstname.lastname@example.org.