Coralee Oakes (photo provided by candidate)
“We are literally holding our breath and hoping that we will not have any more roads collapse, and hope for the safety of our constituents.”
(Photo provided by Ministry of Transportation)
That’s what Cariboo North MLA Coralee Oakes had to say to the Legislature while fighting back tears. Oakes is urging the province for immediate action on the numerous roads collapsing in the Cariboo. “No government controls the weather, and so my remarks this evening as it relates to the budget is the hope that the Premier and the government will not neglect the emerging crisis that is currently taking place in Cariboo North, and find the necessary funds in this budget to assist,” Oakes said.
“The Minister [of Transportation] and government that has been quick to talk about funds for roads in my riding, for example calling West Fraser Road as a true form of supporting rural BC, when the funding actually came from the Federal Government disaster financial Assistance Program,” Oakes says, “and I continue to raise this because I know how we’ve had to use every single legislative tool available to push this government into action”.
Oakes told the Legislature to pull out their phones to check Drive BC to see which roads have been impacted. “Note that the list is growing every single day,” Oakes explains, “roads and communities impacted from Horsefly, Likely, Big Lake, Tyee Lake, McLeese Lake, Soda Creek, going all the way South down Highway 97, Kersley Dale Lake road, Durell Road, auxiliary roads that lead to prime agricultural lands like West Fraser, and Quesnel-Hydraulic residence, and now, the Quesnel-Hixon road which is regularly used as a backup is completely shut down. Every hour as the rain comes down, I live in fear of what the consequences will be. I know we have yellow school buses with our children on them and I hope that nothing will happen.”
West Fraser Road (supplied by Ministry of Transportation)
Oakes says the Premier has an obligation to share the risk the Cariboo has been exposed to, as well as the responsibility to update constituents on each road that has been destroyed and to provide an update on what will be done, and the timeline for being done.
“Here’s a suggestion to the Premier, his cabinet, and any other member who wishes to see what’s happening on the ground: come ride one of our yellow school buses with our students for several hours each way on these detour roads, and on this journey, really contemplate if you still feel the policies the budget and action you are taking are really delivering meaningful results for people.”