Clearwater’s council remains firmly behind a proposed roundabout on Highway 5, despite determined opposition from some in the municipality.
Several business owners held a community meeting Thursday evening. They are opposed to a plan by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to build a roundabout at one of two key intersections on the highway through the small but sprawling municipality.
“We have a speeding problem,” said Coun. Merlyn Blackwell. “We want to tame traffic.”
Blackwell was one of a number of Clearwater councillors to attend the meeting. But he said council is standing behind its decision to support the ministry plan for a roundabout.
“We looked at concept drawings, got educated and stats on it. We thought it was a good idea.”
The Ministry of Transportation says roundabouts are utilized in several locations on B.C. highways, including in Prince George and in Metro Vancouver. It says studies show there are fewer accidents and fatalities than with conventional intersections.
But Kym Jim, a north valley businessman leading the charge against the idea, said many are upset with the lack of consultation with residents and businesses.
“To this point, a proper process hasn’t been followed. Really this whole process doesn’t address the most dangerous intersections (in Clearwater).”
Jim — who owns property at the location — said if the province truly has confidence in its plans it should back off and give people in Clearwater more time to understand planning and talk about overall traffic concerns.
The province, however, is moving ahead with its plans.
“Pre-construction works are starting right away, including clearing of right of way and relocating utilities,” said Rick Blixrud, assistant regional director, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, in a statement.
“We expect the project to be tendered shortly, with work to be complete prior to tourism season next year.”