The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure should halt development of a proposed roundabout on Highway 5 to allow more public input, according to local business owner Kym Jim.
“If the ministry and the district wanted to be certain that they had taken public input on this matter, they should have no problem having further public discussion, and call a public meeting with all representatives,” he said.
Jim is a member of the family that owns Jim’s Food Market, which is located next to the Highway 5 intersection with the road to Wells Gray Park where the proposed roundabout would be located.
He was so unhappy with the way the roundabout project has moved ahead that he called a public meeting last Thursday to voice his concerns.
About 80 people attended, with opinions expressed both for and against the roundabout.
His family has been involved in the North Thompson Valley for 90 years, Jim told the meeting.
He was raised in Little Fort and, even though he no longer lives in the Valley, he visits often and still has strong roots here.
The single open house held last March was not adequate public input for the roundabout project, he said.
A poll that showed the majority of those at the open house was in favor of the roundabout was entirely unscientific, Jim felt.
The local business owner said that what is needed before the project goes ahead is an overall traffic plan for the Highway 5 corridor in Clearwater.
Such a plan would include details such as frontage and backage roads (a frontage road provides access to the front side of commercial properties alongside an arterial; a backage road provides access to commercial properties located between the backage road and an arterial).
Before Jim’s Food Market started developing the corner the Ministry told them that a right-in and right-out access to Highway 5 would be acceptable, Jim said. Later the request was declined and they were told the intersection needed no improvements.
Having a roundabout might negatively affect their business, Jim feared.
“What is unusual for access is not good for business,” he said.
Most travelers are not used to roundabouts and, rather than try to figure out how to make the turn for Jim’s Food Market, many might just continue on their way.
Jim encouraged those opposed to the roundabout to write letters to District of Clearwater council, MLA Terry Lake, and Sherry Eland, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s district manager.
Clearwater council member Ken Kjenstad was one of those who spoke in favor of the roundabout.
More could not be said earlier about the progress being made on the roundabout project because land acquisition was involved, he said.
The road to Wells Gray Park intersection was the priority because of the speeds of traffic on the highway, the number of pedestrians crossing, and the projected growth in the area.
Kjenstad said the provincial truckers’ association told him that their members would have no problem negotiating a roundabout as proposed.
Clearing snow from a roundabout would be easier than clearing it from the present intersection, the council member said.
For the Ministry’s answers to questions raised by the Times, check out the article here.