‘A gong show’: Calls for safety upgrades at Cathedral Grove renewed

'A gong show': Calls for safety upgrades at Cathedral Grove renewed

The Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce is renewing its call for safety upgrades to Cathedral Grove.

With the tourist season in full swing, and the provincial park open again after its pandemic shutdown, there’s a lot of traffic on Highway 4. Each year the park gets half a million visitors with summer seeing the traffic peak.

Bill Collette, chief executive officer of the Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce, says the current situation is a “gong show.”

“It’s absolutely an accident waiting to happen. It will happen. I mean you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure that one out. You know somebody’s going to make a mistake,” said Bill Collette.

Since 2015, the Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce has been calling for safety upgrades for the provincial park.

Collette says the situation has only grown worse with too few parking spots on both sides of the highway and believes the pandemic was a missed opportunity for safety upgrades.

“What I find frustrating is that the place has been closed for a year and a half and nothing’s done. Why not?”

The BC Liberals Transportation Critic and party leadership candidate Michael Lee agrees and says there should have been safety improvements before now.

“There’s been way too much delay by this government. They sent it out to study in 2018. It’s over three years later and we know that, by their own admission, the Ministry of Transportation has said that it was that snap election that was cause for delays. We know that this is a huge safety issue,” said Lee.

In a statement, B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure says it hasn’t yet finalized safety improvements, as it’s still in the engagement process and it expects the next public engagement to take place soon.

First-time Cathedral Grove visitors today say the parking and pedestrian problems are obvious.

“It’s crazy here. You can see there are vehicles everywhere. It could definitely use a proper crosswalk or something,” said Eric Anderson, a tourist from Alberta.

“It’s a little bit hairy. There’s a sign saying no left turns but people are doing left turns here,” said Tammy Tasevski, another tourist.

The ministry says it has “also been working to fully understand safety concerns, as well as concerns about protecting the park’s habitat” and it “continues to monitor speed limits through the area to determine if additional changes are warranted.”

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Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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