Princeton Mayor Spencer Coyne got mad, and things are getting better.
“This is a joke. Where the hell is the province?”
The mayor took to social media Monday, Aug. 16, to shame the provincial government in an attempt to get help with controlling traffic in his community.
Ever since the province closed the Coquihalla Highway Sunday, Aug. 15 due to wildfire, Princeton has been clogged with cars and trucks using Highways 3 and 5A as alternative routes.
“I am absolutely disgusted that we still don’t have any support from the province on traffic control,” he said, during a live-feed video on his personal Facebook page.
“This is my personal rant on my personal page,” he told the Spotlight, after recording the video at around 3 p.m.
The Spotlight then contacted Princeton RCMP.
Sgt. Rob Hughes said once he was made aware of the situation he put the wheels in motion.
“A call-out has been made to the Emergency Communications Centre for an authorization number to allow Princeton fire to conduct traffic control,” said Hughes.
“The Town of Princeton, Princeton fire, the Regional District of the Okanagan Similkameen, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) and RCMP are all working in conjunction to alleviate the problem.”
Hughes also put in a request that MOTI ceases paving on Highway 5A for a period, as it is exasperating the congestion.
When the highway was closed the municipality wasn’t notified.
“I think we found out about it on Twitter,” Coyne said in an interview. At the time, the DriveBC website was disabled.
Then traffic began backing up in Princeton for kilometres and the situation only got worse the following day, he added.
Highways 3 and 5A converge with the town’s main downtown street, Bridge Street, and that entire block is under provincial jurisdiction because it is considered an off-ramp.
“Understandably there’s a lot going on in the province right now and I understand that resources are strapped,” he said. “But this going to lead to an accident…someone could get seriously hurt.”
Coyne said calls from his office to MOTI on Monday were not returned.
Trying to reduce congestion, the municipality barricaded side streets that feed onto Bridge Street and dispatched the town’s only bylaw officer to try to bring order to the intersection.
“That’s not our responsibility,” said Coyne. “That is not his job.”
The intersection has long been an issue for Princeton, said Coyne. “When they close highways in other areas and send (traffic) through our little town, on our little roads, they need to be there to help.”
Coyne added the municipality has been lobbying the province “for at least 20 years” for improvements to the intersection.
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