Options for Copper River Road repairs

Dear Editor,

I read with interest the guest comment by Steve Smyth in the March 1 edition of the Standard. I agree natural gas costs are too high compared to other locations across our province. The Utility Commission should examine that differential and determine if there is a way to even out natural gas costs across B.C. Ultimately our provincial government is responsible for finding a more fair way to spread the cost.

However, we in Terrace are fortunate compared to those who live in Kitwanga, First Nation reserves and the Hazelton’s where natural gas is not available.

A more holistic approach to the development of an LNG industry by the previous government should have taken place, with less hype and concentration upon one or two projects in Kitimat or Prince Rupert. As a part of the project development agreements, more of our communities should be connected to natural gas.

A long time issue, who pays for the Copper River Forest Road (CRFR) maintenance?

The PNG pipeline follows much of CRFR right of way through Copper River Valley including along those locations where the river flows against the road where washouts occur.

The original engineering layout for the pipeline selected the lowest cost route where minimal consideration was given to the Copper River, its riparian zone, fish and wildlife habitats or other natural values.

I believe it was during the early 2000s when the Copper River Forest Road was rebuilt to higher standards even though the original road was safer and easier to drive. The newer road is now built with improved curves, gradients, ditch lines, bridges and other watercourse crossing structures.

Those changes have not stopped mother nature from wielding a big stick. During the October 2017 flood, the river hit the road with a wallop then took a right-hand turn forcing the current to wash out very large, heavy shot rock. It has happened before. Originally the river flowed against a rock face before the road was built across this river channel. Upstream groins could slow the down water flow or the road could be built high above the river, both costly ventures.

What is the PNG and BC Hydro contribution to the CRFR maintenance cost that both depend upon to service their structures? Anglers, hunters, and other outdoor enthusiasts pay through taxes to the provincial government maintenance share, and the remainder is paid by the forest operations. Would it be a good idea if an annual CRFR license maintenance fee were paid by those of us who use the valleys outdoor resources?

Jim Culp

Terrace, B.C.