The construction of a new road that will provide residents living west of the Blackwater River to evacuate to Quesnel or Vanderhoof in the event of an emergency is expected to begin in summer 2019 with completion in fall 2020.
The Province announced the approval for construction of the Kluskus Connector on Monday after extensive consultation and completion of environmental, heritage, and recreation reviews.
“Building this road will provide safety to citizens in the area, as well as socioeconomic benefits to residents of the Kluskus Nation settlement,” said Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.
“The decision to do so aligns with recommendations from the Abbott/Chapman report and supports the Province’s commitment to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”
The road will begin approximately 53 kilometers along the Coglistiko (4000) Forest Service Road in the Quesnel Natural Resource District, cross the Blackwater (West Road) River, and connect to the end of the Blue 4000 Forest Service Road in the Stuart Nechako Natural Resource District.
The $3.6 million dollar project consists of eight kilometres of new construction, including a 40-metre bridge across the Blackwater River and seven kilometres of upgrades to existing roads.
The Ministry said also included are road upgrades and replacement of inadequate, failing or unsafe structures on the current access road (4000 Road).
“The bridge crossing and access road to the north side of the Blackwater River provides an emergency escape route for community members when the 4000 Road is blocked by forest fires,” said Lhoosk’uz Dene Chief Liliane Squinas.
“It will also connect our community members living in the isolated Kluskus reserves on the north side.”
The Kluskus Nation settlement (Kluskus IR#1) currently has only one exit route and has been evacuated five times in the last thirteen years due to fires.
Flooding compromised access in 2018 and again in 2019.