When the B.C. government released its new South Island Transportation Plan on Friday, many hoped there would finally be a concrete plan to address the Malahat: the stretch of the Trans Canada Highway notorious for closures and delays.
But instead, listed under medium-term goals was “advancing planning, engineering and design work to improve safety, efficiency and active transportation along Highway 1 over the Malahat.”
Among those frustrated over the lack of commitment was President and CEO of Maximum Express Courier Al Hasham. His trucks have constantly had issues over the dreaded stretch of road throughout the years.
“It’s very, very difficult when you’re trying to operate a business” Hasham said.
“There’s been so many times when not only I personally, but our drivers and our trucks have been stuck on both sides of the Malahat whether they’re in Nanaimo and can’t get back to Victoria or Victoria and can’t get back out to do their deliveries.”
The Ministry of Transportation spent 2019 looking into seven alternate routes, but in December concluded that all seven had environmental, engineering, property and community disruption impacts.
The hefty financial commitment was also a major factor.
“We heard from the minister that the investment in an alternate route would be so significant that it would potentially limit the other investments that could be made in the region’s infrastructure for transportation,” said Capital Regional District Chair Colin Plant.
Since 2009, there have been over 40 closures. Some feel it will only get worse
“It’s not something that, the way we have it set up right now is sustainable for long-term for the next generation like 20 years down the road. Something will have to happen.” said Hasham.
With British Columbians set to head to the polls in five weeks, the controversial stretch of road could be on some people’s radar.