By DAVID JOHNSON
IT’S THE NIGHT OF THE FIRE, and a bunch of people were trying to open the locked gate off the end of west Qu’Appelle. In the end they managed.
Lackadaisical management, and non-existent emergency plans left a chunk of concrete and heavy equipment in front of a locked gate with no one knowing who had the key. Sometimes it takes a crisis to get people rolling on dealing with a situation like this, and guess what … we’re there.
Check on Google maps and follow that dirt road off the west end of Qu’Appelle, its pretty much a straight line to Rose Hill Road, just below Rose Hill Park. Using this as a short stop, emergency egress road makes sense.
You can bet that as time goes on this year (probably with snow on the ground) those with the responsibility will meet up and fix the evacuation process regarding that gate and that short run to Rose Hill, and I would also expect the City to run a bulldozer and gravel trucks along it, to at least get it to the stage that it could be used by grandpa in a Corolla, under a wildfire panic.
It could be an emergency road, to be used in emergencies. That’s the idea, but when it was truly needed … it failed completely.
As a dirt emergency egress road this will have to be kept gated, and unbreakably locked … with a solid plan in place as to who has the key (preferably keys, plural) in case of wildfire or other evacuation emergencies.
The trick is; no … it can’t be left open year-round in this state, it’s a gravel/dirt road with no barriers to stop you from falling off the road, and no lights. A City can’t leave people to their own devices, they will drive off the road while trying to drive, text and balanced their latte.
The liability is too high and is entirely on the City.
You build a proper road, or you don’t
The thing is, to allow it as a daily use City main road, it will take millions to upgrade it to allowable and liability free street standard.
That won’t happen quickly.
There is another dirt road off of Coldwater Drive, but that’s a meandering turkey-path run down the other side of the hill (through possibly burning forest) to Scott Road and from there you can choose to come out on Rose Hill or continue out to Knutsford.
Given full time use upgrades, you can bet that Rose Hill residents would prefer to not have half of Juniper speeding and commuting down their road from there on a daily basis … it’s already twisty and in need of upgrade itself. They would probably advocate for a brand new Juniper Road, in it’s own area.
From another perspective, its simply dumb to only consider a second road that only goes from the west. Highland Road is right there. A road from the west will ease the daily pressure for people in Juniper west, but everyone east of Highland Road will still need to use that, which is more than 70 per cent of houses up there. Pure numbers wise, it makes much more sense to run a second road off of the east side … yup … right by those big expensive houses.
Watch the back-office City lobbying begin.
There is an existing dirt road that runs off the east end of the new neighbourhood at the bottom of Kicking Horse Drive, that runs a bit east to the gravel pit and around to Orchards Walk, but Kicking Horse residents will kick up a fuss about increased traffic.
There’s also the idea of spending lots of cash on a new road near the edge of Capilano Place or somewhere in that area, but the trek down is pretty much impassable, meaning a very expensive road.
But these are good ideas, better ideas than a second road from Juniper West.
Here’s the thing, and this is why the City hasn’t already done the second road to Juniper beyond cost; One word … NIMBYism. No one wants a full-time road on their street. At the same time, today we have Juniper residents complaining that the City hasn’t done anything about it, after a fire rips through there.
Sense the catch 22 those residents and the City put themselves into?
We can all hope that this is the needed wake up call for not just the City, but for Juniper residents to get involved and help choose the best place to put a second road in, and accept the consequences.
As an aside, it was preposterous to see how many camping trailers, boat trailers and personal ATV equipment were part of that traffic jam. A lot of people up there need to be educated on what an emergency is and what an evacuation is.
Let me do the honours: grab your previously organized evacuation boxes (cough) and your ID, get in the car and drive. That’s it, everything else can burn. It’s about staying alive, and that’s it.
There is no discussion, no argument.
David Johnson is a Kamloops resident, community volunteer and self described maven of all things Canadian.