Coquihalla Highway collapse roughly halfway between Hope and Merrritt, Nov. 16, 2021. (BC government photo)

Coquihalla Highway collapse roughly halfway between Hope and Merrritt, Nov. 16, 2021. (BC government photo)

Coquihalla drivers warned of ‘pooling water’ before washouts

MLAs drove highway to Victoria Sunday, shortly before disaster

Kamloops MLAs Peter Milobar and Todd Stone drove the Coquihalla Highway to return to the B.C. legislature session on Sunday, a “couple hours” before the weekend downpour cut the road in multiple places, and the electronic signs gave no hint of an emergency.

The adjustable speed limit signs installed while Stone was the B.C. Liberal transportation minister to allow for conditions hadn’t been changed, and the the overhead reader boards warned only of “pooling water,” Stone told the legislature Thursday.

“I can tell you that the variable speed signs hadn’t been changed,” Stone said Nov. 18. “The speed was still 120 kilometres per hour, and all that was on the overhead message boards was a notice to watch for pooling water on the road, which is a very common message that we see on those signs very often.”

VIDEO: Coquihalla Highway washes out near Hope

RELATED: B.C. Alert Ready text system still not ready

The B.C. Liberal opposition has criticized B.C.’s disaster response for months, from rising opioid overdoses to COVID-19 restrictions that still have bars closed in northern B.C., as well as the government’s handling of wildfire and heat wave warnings.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said he and government emergency management staff worked with federal Public Safety Minister Bill Blair on the response to widespread flooding, road and rail destruction. Citizens were kept up to date on the unprecedented, sudden damage through the transportation ministry’s DriveBC phone app and Twitter account. Stone scoffed at his answers.

“Surely the minister doesn’t expect British Columbians to rely on Drive B.C.’s Twitter page,” Stone said. “Surely he doesn’t expect them to rely on Facebook posts while they’re at the wheel, while they’re driving.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

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