The B.C. government has finally put the wheels in motion to install a bus service between Prince George and Prince Rupert.
At least eighteen women have been murdered or have disappeared along Highway 16, the notorious stretch known as the Highway of Tears.
It’s prompted a slew of First Nations and women’s groups over a number of decades to call for bus service, lights, and webcams.
Asked why it took until now to make the decision, Transportation Minister todd Stone says he wanted to get it right.
“Every one of these communities is different, very unique. Their transportation needs are different as well. We realized early on there was no one size fits all solution that was going to work, which is why we’ve come up with a more holistic approach to this.”
Stone says it took 16 memorandums of understanding between the communities along the notorious stretch of road.
“We can now work on the planning to actually implement BC Transit service that will actually connect every single community along the 800 kilometre stretch of highway from Prince Rupert to Prince George. That is exceptionally good news for all of those communities.”
Stone says they’re hopeful for partial service by the end of this year, and full service by next spring.
A family member of one of the notorious highway’s victims says he’s cautiously optimistic at the news.
Carrier Sekani Tribal Chief Terry Teegee lost his cousin Ramona Wilson 22 years ago, and says the service can’t start a day too soon.
“It’s been a long time coming since the actual missing and murdered highway of tears report that was developed 10 years ago. It was one of the very first recommendations of the 33 recommendations.”
But Teegee says the key to success will be whether the province consults with communities along the route.
“Going to the grassroots level and those people that would probably use the actual transportation system. We need to hear from them and see what best works for the communities.”
He says today’s announcement is good news, particularly for the families who have lost someone to the highway. He adds he’s hopeful to see the transportation service expanded to other northern communities.