Remote and rural communities in British Columbia are benefiting from $28 million from B.C.’s Economic Recovery Plan to upgrade side, secondary and forest service roads.
The funding is going to two programs and is part of $418 million allocated to revitalize community infrastructure, enhance connections between communities and get people back to work.
“Our economic recovery plan is focused on helping people, businesses and communities across B.C. build back stronger as we recover from COVID-19,” said Rob Fleming, B.C.’s Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “We are investing in infrastructure people in remote and rural areas of British Columbia rely on to access their communities, creating good jobs and supporting people across our province.”
The Remote and Rural Communities program, through the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, is providing opportunities to build and improve necessary infrastructure: $20 million is being used to fund more than 80 shovel-ready projects that will make getting around rural Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities safer and easier.
The program is increasing employment opportunities for people in remote and rural areas. Most of the work will be delivered by maintenance contractors, local contractors and day labour using the ministry’s Hired Equipment program. The projects include local paving, shoulder widening, lighting installation and crosswalk markings. The program includes riprap (rock) placement and stream enhancements for fish habitat.
People in communities like Boston Bar and Invermere are already benefiting from recent resurfacing and shoulder-widening projects that have made roads smoother and safer for pedestrians and cyclists. To date, 31 of the more than 80 planned projects are complete, and 37 more are underway.
Roughly $8 million will go to fund approximately 75 projects through Enhanced Forest Service Road Maintenance to help upgrade forest service roads in various locations. These projects will provide jobs for forest sector workers affected by the pandemic and will benefit Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities that rely on these roads to access public services, as well as people who use these forest service roads to access recreation sites.
“Upgrading these forestry roads will help improve safety for a number of rural communities while creating jobs and providing new economic opportunities for people living in these areas,” said Katrine Conroy, B.C.’s Minister of Forests Lands, Natural Resources Operations and Rural Development. “All British Columbians are experiencing challenges as a result of the ongoing pandemic, and those in rural parts of the province often face additional hurdles as a result of their remoteness. This investment will help maintain and improve access routes to various Indigenous and rural communities and recreation areas.”
The B.C. government administers about 60,000 kilometres of forest service roads and carries out maintenance where communities, rural residents and high-value recreation sites have priority.