Cars parked in no parking zone at exit of trail to town from ski hill. (Grant Harris photo)

Zobnick Rd. residents fed up with ski trail parking problem

RDBN, Hudson Bay Mountain, RCMP vow to work toward solution

  • Jan. 14, 2021 12:00 a.m.

Residents on Zobnick Rd. are fed up with people parking at the exit from the trail to town from the ski hill.

Sheldon Armitage said there have been times he couldn’t even get home because of cars blocking the road as it curves just past the railroad tracks.

Unfortunately, for residents, the only simple solution is for users of the trail to have the courtesy not to park there, something that has not happened since the trail opened 12 years ago, Armitage said.

“You can go up to that corner any day between three and five and there’ll be ten cars parked at the corner blocking traffic,” he said.

“They stop in the middle of the road and open their doors and change their clothes, it’s just crazy.”

That hasn’t stopped him from pursuing other angles, including the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN), RCMP, Town of Smithers, Hudson Bay Mountain Ski Corp. (HBM), CN Rail, even Ziggy’s Towing, so far without much satisfaction.

He said, it has been kind of a game of jurisdictional pass-the-buck.

While the regional district has put up “No Parking” signs, some people ignore them and there is no bylaw to back them up, which means the RCMP cannot ticket motorists except under the province’s Motor Vehicle Act (MVA).

Smithers Staff Sgt. Terry Gillespie said the only offence that applies in that specific location is blocking the right of way of a public road, something Armitage says happens all the time.

The MVA does present challenges to the RCMP because unlike with a parking bylaw, they cannot simply leave a ticket on the windshield, but must serve the registered owner of the vehicle in person.

He said that is something they would do, however, if they catch people in the act.

“Certainly, if they’re blocking the road, people should definitely call us,” Gillespie said.

Mark Fisher, RDBN director for Electoral Area A (Smithers rural), said the regional district is eager to help and are in discussions to come up with a viable solution.

HBM is also sympathetic to the residents’ plight, but have not done anything yet other than urging their guests to respect the no parking zone.

Lex Rei-Jones, who was recently hired as the manager for the ski hill, said there was a time they had an agreement with the owner of a vacant field adjacent to the corner and would plow that out for parking. Then ownership changed hands.

“We looked at purchasing a piece of land down there, but some of the land was on somebody’s private property and we couldn’t be guaranteed we would always be able to access it,” Rei-Jones said.

They are amenable to revisiting the issue, however.

“We haven’t gotten anywhere with that yet, but it’s definitely on my radar, it’s something not just to alleviate the concerns of the people who live there, but also something else we would be able to offer our guests.”

For Heather Trigiani, it is also a safety issue. She says many times she has seen skiers fly out onto the road from the trail. With cars parked there, visibility is disrupted and she worries someone is going to get hit by oncoming traffic.

“It’s a safety thing, for me, more so than a pain-in-the-butt,” she said. “They block the view when I’m going up my driveway.”

The other safety issue, said Armitage, is often trains stop there blocking the road.

“Probably a dozen times, eight-year-old kids are crawling under the train as the train is sitting on Zobnick Rd. idling,” he said. “CN finally put a camera up there so they could monitor it, but somebody is going to get killed before anything’s done.”

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