After two months, a car that has rested abandoned in the Similkameen River near Princeton is going to be removed.
All it took was an outraged director of the RDOS, and a couple of phone calls from the newspaper.
An email received by The Spotlight Tuesday afternoon, from ICBC spokesperson Joanna Linsangan, states: “Multiple agencies are working on removing the vehicle from the Similkameen River. We can confirm that the vehicle will be removed this week. We’d like to thank The Similkameen Spotlight for alerting ICBC to this issue.”
It all started with a car accident on Highway 3, about eight kilometres east of town, on February 2.
A vehicle left the highway and entered the river. The driver walked away, but failed to take the car.
According to RCMP Constable Ryan Henley, the local police service contacted the owner of the vehicle requesting the car be towed from the water, but did not get a response.
Police had no jurisdiction to arrange to remove the car, he said, although it would have been different if the car had been on pavement.
“Our job is to keep the roadways clear.”
Henely noted that since the accident the RCMP have received numerous reports from passersby – people calling to report a car in the river.
“There is police tape up,” he said. “We just had [a call] yesterday. We don’t need any more reports of that vehicle.”
RCMP contacted the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources to follow up on the incident, but as of Monday night had not heard of a resolution.
RDOS Area H director Bob Coyne contacted The Spotlight on the weekend, after exhausting efforts to find someone to take responsibility for the situation.
He had received a complaint from a resident.
“I am angry,” said Coyne, suggesting the government might be waiting for “the tooth fairy” to remove the car from the water.
He was concerned the rising river would “take that car down the river. There are pollutants. We’ve got antifreeze, we’ve got oil, gasoline and God knows what else in the vehicle.”
Coyne spoke with employees of the conservation office and the provincially run insurance agency.
“I am feeling, what is the word? I am feeling let down by our provincial government. I feel basically betrayed by our government that they would, through these various agencies, allow this to happen.”
Coyne said he understood that the driver of the car did not have insurance coverage to pay for a recovery, and that while the matter was referred to the Ministry of the Environment “they have no money to do these recoveries…this is a province wide issue.”
A media relations officer representing the conservation office did not reply to The Spotlight’s request for information.
Linsangan,with ICBC, first clarified the corporation’s position in an email.
“If the customer has purchased optional coverage with ICBC for damages to their vehicle, then ICBC would take the lead on recovery of the vehicle (in the water) and work with the insured customer on the next steps.
We would tow the vehicle out of the water and determine if it can be repaired. In many of these cases, the vehicle is usually not repairable.”
The following day she indicated the vehicle will be removed from the river this week in a cooperative effort with other agencies.
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