We won't use the word "deceptive" but there might not be a better word to describe the B.C. government's public consultation on four-laning between Kamloops and the Alberta border.
When the $650 million over 10 years for improvements to the Trans-Canada Highway was announced, it sure seemed like we would at last have four lanes through the entire stretch of road a decade from now.
But it looks like what Premier Christy Clark and Transportation Minister Mary Polak really meant was that they would get as much four-laning done as possible over the next 10 years within the constraints of a $650-million budget.
It's not one big project, but several smaller projects. They'll add up to a whole lot of wider highway, but that spot where you expected four lanes might not be included.
That puts the public consultations into a whole other light. If you want to make sure a certain portion of the highway is upgraded, you'd better let the government know about it, because what you see as a priority might not jive with what their engineers have in mind.
We spoke to about half a dozen people at the Kamloops session Tuesday evening, and none came with the idea of providing input. They were just curious to see what was going on.
It seems, though, that we shouldn't be making any assumptions. Even Polak's vow of four-laning between here and Chase is open to scrutiny. Did she mean the entire stretch? Or did she mean portions of it? Taken to an extreme, the government could do just a few feet of widening and keep its promise of four-laning between here and Chase. It would, after all, be four lanes, and it would be between Kamloops and Chase.
Still, $650 million is nothing to sneeze at, and much work will be done with that money. It's just unfortunate that the reason for the sessions was not made clearer. People who might have wanted to have a say lost an opportunity.
All is not lost, though.
The B.C. government has a website at bchwy1.ca with a discussion guide and feedback form. If you want to make sure your pet project is put on the priority list, you'd better click on over there.
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