Highways ministry misses the point

EDITORIAL: Ministry of Transportation's refusal to address safety concerns impacts community volunteerism

For the last six years, members of the Vernon Collectors Club — many of them seniors — have volunteered their time to pick up garbage and debris along Highway 97 as a way of contributing to the community.

But that has come to a stop because the Ministry of Transportation has refused to address some very basic safety concerns through its Adopt A Highway program.

It has denied the club’s requests for flagpersons and signs instructing motorists to slow down when people are working along the route.

“The obligation for safety falls on the group,” said Murray Tekano, district manager.

Give us a break. This is a volunteer organization and they do not have the expertise or resources to put together flagpersons and traffic control along a busy provincial highway.

One also has to wonder if anyone from the ministry has ever stood along the shoulder at Swan Lake before?

How comfortable would they be as tractor-trailer units are whizzing by in excess of 100 kilometres an hour?

Now it should also be pointed out that because of the efforts of the Vernon Collectors Club and other groups, the ministry does not have to clean up trash itself.

Given this case of downloading,  the least the government could do is ensure the safety of dedicated community residents.

One would hope the ministry would reconsider its view, but that’s not likely when one hears, “there are other areas of highways we can find for them if they wish to continue.”

Sadly, it looks like a free community service by a dedicated group may be no more.

– Vernon Morning Star