Around 30 residents of the Parker Road area southwest of Qualicum Beach signed a petition to the Ministry of Transportation with complaints about the high traffic and level of service on the area’s dirt roads.
Donna Paravicini, whose family has owned land along Parker Road for more than 40 years, has a thick file of correspondence with Ministry of Transportation and government authorities requesting increased maintenance and attention.
“The best solution would be chip-sealing,” she said, referring to the spraying and layering of gravel, which is cheaper than asphalt and sometimes done to dirt roads, also called seal coating.
When Paravicini called an impromptu meeting with residents and ministry officials last summer at the corner of Parker and Pillard roads, around 15 residents showed up with complaints and were looking for details.
Paravicini started with a bundle of e-mail exchanges with the ministry and asked why she had been told accident rates don’t play a part in their road classification system, which determine the amount of maintenance a road gets.
Barbara Thomas, a ministry representative, responded that there simply are no accurate accident statistics kept for rural roads, so they can’t reliably use that as a regular part of the process.
A report from ICBC said there were five accidents reported to them in 2004 to 2008 on Parker, Page, Pillar and Kaplar roads and Paravicini said there were others not reported.
In February 2008 a school bus slid off the road and was damaged but there were no injuries.
The ministry officials referred to an old traffic count that found 100 cars a day on Parker, but as a result of the meeting they did a new count in September 2010 and found an average of 287 vehicles per day (VPD).
As a result they increased the summer road maintenance classification to Class 5, which according to their policy, covers roads of 100 to 500 VPD, leading to more grading and service.
The winter classification and service levels were not changed from Class C, which includes school bus and truck routes not included in Class B, which starts at 1,000 VPD.
In response to recent questions from The News about accident rates and the impact of things like school bus routes on decisions to upgrade a road, ministry spokesman Jeff Knight said by e-mail that the roads, “are on a prioritized list for possible inclusion in the ministry’s Hard Surfacing Program. Along with other identified roads in the Vancouver Island District, the program is reviewed annually and roads are analyzed as funding becomes available.”