The Thompson-Nicola Regional District board voted Thursday to defer writing a letter of support to restrict commercial vehicles on Highway 5A, opting instead to wait for more information before coming to a decision.
It’s a move that's frustrating for residents like Jolene Zielke, who has experienced and witnessed close calls with large commercial trucks.
“I don’t know what needs to be done for something to change,” Zielke, who lives along the route, told Castanet Kamloops.
“You just hate to not do something when there might be something that you can do, if it can prevent an accident or an incident in the future.”
The stretch of highway from Merritt to Kamloops, running parallel to the Coquihalla, has been the subject of complaints from many others who live and drive along the route.
According to emails sent to the TNRD, some residents have said the volume of trucks cause traffic delays and noise. The letters also indicate concern about poor driving behaviour witnessed from some commercial truck drivers, potentially endangering others on the road.
An email submitted by David Needham said he and his wife have “experienced more life threatening situations with trucks coming quickly around corners and into the oncoming lane than we wish to remember.”
“What I’ve been hearing people say since we’ve moved here is that it’s basically going to take a school bus going into the lake before the government takes any action to protect the locals and their children from these dangerous situations,” Needham wrote.
Glenn Dreger also wrote to the board saying he has experienced commercial vehicles exhibiting aggressive and dangerous driving behaviour.
“I have been passed on double solid lines by truckers who obviously put time ahead of the lives of other motorists,” he wrote.
Board Chair Ken Gillis, who has a background in long-haul trucking, said he was concerned the information the board had received so far on the matter — including a “recent blizzard” of letters in support of restricting commercial vehicles on the highway — was based in emotion and not fact, or “simply not reliable."
“I’m very, very concerned we are going to jump on a bandwagon without having all the facts,” he told the board.
“I urge you not to support it, at least not yet.”
Gillis said Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement and police should present information to the board before a final decision is made.
Mel Rothenburger, the director representing Electoral Area P, responded to Gillis, saying although he had no objection to looking for additional information from the trucking industry, he hoped the board would keep an open mind.
“I don’t think we should have already made up our minds, Mr. Chair, which you seem to have already done by urging us to not support the requests,” Rothenburger said.
Ronaye Elliot, the director representing Electoral Area J, moved that the board defer a decision on the issue until they have had time to hear from the CVSE and the ministry of transportation.
This motion was passed by the board.