OUR VIEW: Hope and a prayer emergency plan

We’re faced with conflicting information

So, are we any further ahead?

City Manager Andy Laidlaw told council that after discussions with the RCMP, the BC Ambulance service and the fire department, the Island Highway upgrade poses no threat to the passage of emergency vehicles. Any statement to the contrary is full of misinformation and rumours, Laidlaw told council.

There’s enough space for emergency vehicles to get around cars pulled over to the side of the road in the newly-upgraded section of the old Island Highway, Laidlaw said. Furthermore, if a fire truck or ambulance needs to, it can mount the curb to navigate around other vehicles.

Yet, firefighters union president Reid Wharton insists that the width of the road does pose a problem. He also questions the wisdom of driving $600,000 fire trucks up on the curb – although, if these vehicles can’t handle riding up onto the curb, you have to wonder about how sturdy they are.

As big an issue this will be to the unlucky homeowner who has to watch a fire truck crawl towards his house as the flames eat away at the walls, there is another issue here and that is the one of communication between City Hall and the fire department, particularly its individual firefighters. Wharton implies there was no consultation with the firefighters who ride the trucks which would seem to be a reasonable inquiry to make, especially since Wharton has been outspoken on this issue.

Wharton is obviously at odds with, presumably, his department who reassured the city manager the roadway is no problem. So, we’re left with who to believe. You could be like letter writer Walter Hall (see below) and get out and measure the road but presumably city staff have done that.

The proof will be in the first emergency perfect storm of a fire, heavy traffic and a location in the middle of the upgraded stretch of road. Hopefully, that will be as rare as everyone hopes it will be.

– Campbell River

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