Tragedies have community pushing hard for Malahat highway barriers

Mill Bay resident Lynda Dickie makes a presentation to the CVRD board of directors on more barriers for the Malahat at Wednesday’s meeting. - Ashley Degraaf
Mill Bay resident Lynda Dickie makes a presentation to the CVRD board of directors on more barriers for the Malahat at Wednesday’s meeting.
— image credit: Ashley Degraaf

Cowichan Valley Regional District directors will sit down with government staffers to bargain for more barriers on the Malahat.

This promise follows a presentation made by Mill Bay resident Lynda Dickie.

Dickie presented her plea for safety upgrades during Wednesday’s board meeting.

“On Saturday, Oct. 9 of this year, my husband Doug Dickie phoned me to say he would be late for dinner, again because of another Malahat accident,” she said. “The wait was a troublesome six hours for many but a tragedy for motorcyclist, 54-year-old Colin Grant and his children and family.”

Dickie reminded directors of other fatal Malahat accidents, including one that took Mill Bay pharmacist Ted Carino’s life, as well the crash that saw Lucas Ian Brown sentenced seven years for making an illegal left turn, killing Martha Ralph and Lawrence Machnee.

“Repeat those scenes over and over and this breathtakingly beautiful stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway could be renamed the Highway of Death,” she said. “The steep curves and turns make it a very dangerous highway to traverse.”

Dickie applauded the Ministry of Transportation for their work done on the Mill Bay to Nanaimo portion of the TCH.

“Even straight stretches are guarded with barriers,” she said. “How many of you have driven over a line on the highway and how many of you have hit a barrier?

“It is a known fact that barriers on the highway make traffic more cautious and drivers slow down,” she said.

Dickie has already penned a letter to Minister of Transportation Blair Lekstrom.

“My support of the government is very evident and I am a supporter of Premier Clark, but for the first time in 40 years I am feeling disappointed in government priorities,” she states in her letter. “The Malahat does not need to be widened immediately to put up concrete barriers in some very dangerous places that are wide enough to accommodate them where possible.”

Dickie urged directors to write the minister as well as get their names on the online petition ‘Malahat Life Preservation Project’.

Mill Bay/Malahat director Brian Harrison agreed it’s time for action.

“It gets me very concerned when I hear people say the Malahat is a safe road,” he said.  “If we had a department within the CVRD responsible for 14 deaths since year 2000, do you think we’d be allowed to get away with that?”

Harrison urged his colleagues to pass a resolution to make a meeting with the minister to express their ‘outrage’ and encourage action on safety upgrades.

Duncan mayor Phil Kent asked to add other unsafe areas of the TCH to the conversation, including core intersections Beverly Street, Trunk Road and Valleyview.

But that didn’t fly with Harrison or Saltair director Mel Dorey, who both agreed it would dilute the motion.

“That just waters down our intentions,” Harrison said.

“What we’re looking for here is a quick fix which would probably be a huge plus,” Dorey added.

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