Park road is a safety issue

Resident calls for improvements to Cosens Bay Road

Thank you for the opportunity to explain some of the safety issues with Cosens Bay Road. The public has voted Cosens Bay Road in the BCAA top 10 worst roads report for good reason.

Over the past three years, my husband Wally and I have personally helped people in 12 separate accidents on the stretch of Cosens Bay Road between the park entrance and the end of the road. We have helped countless others before then.

In the vicinity of the parking lot for rock climbers, there is a deep gulley and a narrow, blind corner and  sharp turns. At one time, even a dump truck had to back up and maneuver to make the turn due to the narrow portion of this road. One incident we witnessed was a truck pulling a flat-bed trailer carrying an excavator. The driver of the truck had to unload the excavator and pull the truck and trailer, hanging precariously over the bank of the narrow road near a gulley back on to the road. The road is far too narrow to maneuver safely with the volume of traffic enjoying the park and there have been several close calls for serious accidents in this area before.

Summer is a dangerous time on this road due to large volumes of traffic enjoying the park, a lack of gravel on the surface of the road and improper ditching of the rain and underground water sources so it stays off the road surface. We have seen many vehicles slide off the road during summer wet road conditions due to rain water on the road making the surface very slippery. Combined with having to quickly pull over to the soft shoulder of many one lane wide locations along this road, motorists are forced into attempts to avoid head-on collisions with oncoming traffic. Further, while motorists react the best way they can in these blind situations, they are often at serious risk of plunging over embankments or hitting trees. If you drive this road, you will see that in many locations the width of this road is not even as wide as a logging road in the wilderness that is radio controlled with pullouts to avoid head on collisions.

We witness the trauma of motorists in the winter months who come as visitors to the park for rock climbing or hiking in the park and beyond. We have watched young boys with their fathers ice climb on the water fall on Cosens Creek in December only to get trapped by the poor road conditions. Property owners use this same road in the winter months and have to carry sand to spread on the icy dangerous conditions.

The dangerous conditions of winter leave a trap for many motorists. On one of the corners immediately west of the grasslands, we personally assisted a young couple who were home from university and innocently wanting to enjoy the park and overturned their vehicle. They had their vehicle slide out of control and head for a bank and trees. In an attempt to avoid going over the bank and hitting a tree, they swerved and the vehicle overturned. That left the two of them trying to get out of their seat belts while hanging upside down.

The one-lane, icy road was now fully blocked in front of us. We assisted the couple and when the young man told us he had called his mother, we knew we had to stop her before she got to the location. My husband ran up to the grasslands in blowing snow, with only shoes on his feet and a small flashlight, to stop her before it was too late. I called the RCMP and advised them of the icy conditions and warned them to bring a four-wheel drive vehicle if they were coming. The police came part way but were not willing to drive further on the road. They confirmed that help was coming and that we had the couple in our vehicle to keep them warm. We waited three hours while a tow truck had to find ways to winch the vehicle back on to its wheels, which involved winching to a tree to give the truck pulling traction on the narrow icy roadway.

On the winding, narrow, blind corners leaving Cosens Beach area, we have seen many vehicles sliding backwards down the narrow steep hill with blind corners. They often came to a rest against trees or a snow bank. This is due to the lack of reasonable winter maintenance in this shaded, steep location where ditching and culverts are not present or are filled in with dirt.

We are grandparents of four young children who visit us frequently. I am deeply concerned about their safety each time they travel on this road. My concern also extends to all families and young people who put their lives at unnecessary risks when they wish to enjoy the park or visit relatives and friends.

The road through a class A park called Okanagan Mountain Park in Kelowna is two lanes wide and provides visitors a safe route to locations within the park. Take a drive and make your own comparisons of the two roads. Visitors using Cosens Bay Road deserve safety.

The risks on Cosens Bay Road could be easily avoided for every ones’ loved ones by maintaining this road to basic provincial standards.

 

Alice M. Klim