The proposed AR1 North-South Interconnector.                                Ministry of Transportation image

The proposed AR1 North-South Interconnector. Ministry of Transportation image

Letter: consider other designs for Interconnector

Group opposes AR1 North-South Interconnector plan

Editor,

This is an open letter to Quesnel City Council.

Mr Mayor, council members,

The City manager denied our delegation permission to confront the Ministry of Transportation when they present the AR1 Interconnector proposal to City Council on 27 March.

We oppose the AR1, and want other, more viable plans considered.

Before we get into details, we very much appreciate that Council has followed through by achieving a highway plan. For many years the people of Quesnel endured problems with traffic but although we wanted improvements, nothing materialized. Only this Council has produced a design and brought it to the planning stage. You showed that you’re more than talk. Public interest at the Seniors’ Centre on 19 February was the result of action!

We want the same things: we’d like to travel on safe roads around the city and to have heavy and dangerous loads bypass the downtown streets, except as needed for deliveries. Traffic has outgrown Front Street. The question is, how can we achieve this?

The AR1 design is flawed. With stoplights at both ends, it would cause more congestion than it would relieve. Traffic would back up past the hospital from the north traffic light, back up to the RCMP building from the south, and back up across the Quesnel River Bridge. Bypass traffic should flow continuously, not stop and start! But the AR1 isn’t a bypass, is it?

A City bylaw prevents North Quesnel residents from removing a mature conifer from their property without authorization from the city. The bylaw was intended to preserve the character and appeal of North Quesnel. The AR1 would destroy more than 60 per cent of these trees in North Quesnel, leaving only Weldwood Park and a scattering beside private homes. The green belt would be gone (see for yourself on Google Earth pro).

To replace the soil stability that tree roots give the slope today, a huge retaining wall around 16 city blocks long would have to be built. If you prefer to look at an expensive retaining wall instead of trees, that may not matter. If your view of trees is that they are just logs still standing that haven’t had their branches cut off, O.K. But North Quesnel residents would lose a visual screen and instead of looking at trees, they would see lumber yards and the pulp mill. What hypocrisy against the bylaw!

The consequence of this devastation would be that real estate values around North Quesnel would tank. We bought homes here because of the character of this neighbourhood, and in one swoop the AR1 would destroy that character and devalue our property.

The solitude of St. Ann’s Catholic Church and School would be ruined.

The Council spent two and a half years in private meetings before presenting the AR1 proposal. No other designs are offered. Homeowners were told their land would be taken only two days before the public exhibition, and there has been an aggressive media campaign for acceptance. Planning was done in secret without consulting us, and there has been no sincere concern for the homeowners directly affected; we are only seen as an impediment; our objections have been dismissed.

With a promise to stay off their turf, it is easy to get letters of approval from Tolko, West Fraser and Cariboo Pulp. What about the people who are directly affected by the AR1? How many letters of approval do you have from affected home owners? Williams Subdivision would lose their south view of trees and be forced to endure the noise and dust of a four-lane highway next door!

Aren’t people’s homes and neighbourhoods important in Quesnel? Council would do well to remember that they were not elected by industry. The Downtown Association should remember who shops there.

Please consider other designs. It is false economy to accept this plan and spend the money needed to build a true working bypass.

We were caught by surprise; it seems that was deliberate. This letter is to serve notice that we will protest, we will petition, we will obstruct and defeat this AR1 initiative.

Michelle Sargent on behalf of Residents Oppose AR 1

Quesnel, B.C.