Shuswap residents have concerns with the maintenance of rural roads and Highway 1 this winter by the province’s contractor, AIM Roads. (AIM Roads photo)

Rural Shuswap residents unimpressed with winter road maintenance

Highways contractor also responsible for maintaining, plowing rural roads

Rural residents in the Shuswap are waiting to be impressed by the province’s new highways maintenance contractor for the region.

Elain Bow, who lives on Hendrickson Road near Balmoral, says she and others in the area have been underwhelmed with AIM Roads’ performance when it comes to winter maintenance of rural roads. On her road, she says the company had been using an undersized plow that wasn’t able to clear the snow to the degree she and other residents had seen from the previous contractor. As a result, the road was becoming increasingly narrow.

“A certain amount of that is just the conditions, but we did have a heavy snow two years ago and JPW (the former contractor) deployed a great big plow and that thing threw the snow way up and off the road, which we have the capacity to handle up here,” said Bow. “But they will not deploy that machine and, as a result, we’re coming into a situation where I’m afraid there’s going to be an accident on our road.”

Read more: Many North Okanagan roads remain an ice rink

Read more: Thefts, domestic assaults and Highway 1 collisions keep Sicamous RCMP busy

Read more: Roads contractor waits for snow removal equipment as winter looms

After making calls to AIM Roads, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI), ICBC and the RCMP, Bow said AIM Roads plowed her road again on Sunday, Jan. 12, and were able to make it “marginally wider.”

“I think that AIM got the message from the one neighbour… who has contacted them daily for the last two weeks and finally lost his temper Saturday on the phone with them,” said Bow.

When asked about service to rural roads, AIM Road operations manager for the Shuswap, Gabriel Nava, said every road maintained by the company is done in less than 48 hours after a storm has ended. Initial focus is on Class A (high volume traffic, more than 5,000 vehicle daily traffic count), Class B (trunk and main routes, 1,000 daily traffic count) and Class C roads (school bus, industrial routes), as well as some Class D roads (other regularly maintained winter routes) with more hills and corners.

“Then we are hitting all the little roads we can get to,” said Nava. “We ensure all the school bus routes are open so kids can make it to school.”

Even Highway 1 has been a concern for Malakwa resident Melissa Fallis, who commutes daily to Salmon Arm.

“In previous years, there have been days here and there where you would white knuckle it, slow right down and pray for the best, but this year that has been happening a lot more frequently and for much longer in duration,” said Fallis, noting Highway 1 has gone from washboard conditions on Dec. 31 to sections of sheer ice.

While she understands road crews have been working hard, and has seen posts by AIM Roads asking for patience, Fallis says she hasn’t felt safe at all driving Highway 1 this winter.

“I don’t mind adjusting for these conditions in a storm and to make it from point A to point B,” said Fallis. “However, when the conditions don’t improve over several days and several calls into the call centre – your fear and frustration levels rise. I have three daughters at home and all I want is to make it there and back – without wondering if I am going to see them again. It is a nauseating feeling…”

Fallis says her top five worst spots on Highway 1 include: the hill by the Canoe golf course; the s-curve near the Canoe Forest Products mill; the stretch from the last exit to Oxbow Frontage Road to the Perry River Bridge; and in front of the Husky/Esso station in Sicamous.

The Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) reports having received plenty of calls regarding winter road maintenance. However, the CSRD is not responsible for the maintenance or plowing of roads, and has provided a list of numbers to call for residents of the regional district. In Service Area 13, Okanagan-Shuswap (Electoral Areas C and D, and the majority of Areas E and F), concerns can be directed to AIM Roads Inc at 1-866-222-4204, or email aimroads@acciona.ca, or MOTI’s Vernon area office at 1-250-503-3664.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Warriors introduce new leadership core, look for bounce back after Friday loss

West Kelowna’s three-game winning streak ended Friday with a 6-3 loss

‘It’s still early’: Flu rates down so far this year at Interior Health

At Kelowna General Hosptial, there have been about 50 confirmed cases

Undermanned Rockets come close in 1st game of road-trip with 3-2 loss to Silvertips

Kelowna continues the three-game stretch Saturday night in Portland

Kelowna’s last video store, Leo’s Video, to remain open despite failed sale

Kelowna’s last video rental store will remain open and under its namesake’s ownership

Two-vehicle collision slows traffic on Highway 97

Harvey is down to two lanes heading east past Dilworth is closed while crews clean up

‘Like an ATM’: World’s first biometric opioid-dispensing machine launches in B.C.

First-of-its-kind dispensing machine unveiled in the Downtown Eastside with hopes of curbing overdose deaths

Canucks extend home win streak to 8 with 4-1 triumph over Sharks

Victory lifts Vancouver into top spot in NHL’s Pacific Division

BC Green Party leader visits northern B.C. pipeline protest site

Adam Olsen calls for better relationship between Canada, British Columbia and First Nations

B.C. society calls out conservation officer after dropping off bear cub covered in ice

Ice can be seen in video matted into emaciated bear cub’s fur

Horgan cancels event in northern B.C. due to security concerns, says Fraser Lake mayor

The premier will still be visiting the city, but the location and day will not be made public

B.C. landlord sentenced to two years in jail for torching his own rental property

Wei Li was convicted of intentionally lighting his rental property on fire in October 2017

B.C. town spends $14.14 per resident for snow removal in one month

Costs of snow removal to the Town of Princeton skyrocketed in December.… Continue reading

PHOTOS: Eastern Newfoundland reeling, search underway for missing man after blizzard

More than 70 centimetres of new snow fell overnight, creating whiteout conditions

Prince Harry, Meghan to give up ‘royal highness’ titles

‘Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family,’ says Queen Elizabeth II

Most Read