B.C.’s transportation minister has announced a $3-million action plan to improve safety along the so-called Highway of Tears.
The money will go toward a new driver education program and a community transportation grant to help communities buy and operate cars.
The plan also includes safety improvements along the notorious stretch of road, such as webcams and transit shelters.
Transportation Minister Todd Stone says he hopes the plan will be in place as soon as April next yea,r and is happy to be moving forward.
“This is a really important day for people along Highway 16 who have been waiting very patiently and have been actively engaged with the ministry and others for many months now.”B
Not included in the plan is a shuttle bus along the stretch of road. That was a key recommendation of B.C.’s missing women inquiry, however the province says it is not necessary.
First Nations react
BC’s First Nations leaders say a long-awaited $3-million funding announcement to improve safety along the Highway is a step in the right direction.
Shane Gottfriedson with the BC Assembly of First Nations says, in this case, there was a great partnership with the First Nations of the North.
“They don’t call it the highway of tears for nothing. It is definitely encouraging because I do hold the national file on missing and murdered women, and I do think it’s a welcome start.”
But Union of BC Indian Chiefs Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the plan, which includes enhancing existing transit services and helping communities buy and operate transit vehicles, doesn’t go far enough.
“There have been countless recommendations about establishing a shuttle bus service along the Highway of Tears to ensure that young women have the means of travelling along that dangerous route without resorting to hitch hiking.”
More than 18 women have been murdered or disappeared along the 750 kilometre corridor from Prince Rupert to Prince George.