Several communities along Highway 1 in the Fraser Canyon say road closures from the atmospheric rivers in November and now high avalanche risk following recent snowstorms has left them cut off from the rest of the province.
“Living in the canyon, we’ve always faced bad winters where the road is shut down periodically but this year has been really bad,” Terrie Davidson, Boothroyd Indian Band manager told Global News.
North of communities such as Boothroyd and Boston Bar, the risk of avalanches has stalled work on a temporary bridge at Jackass Mountain.
Several avalanches to the south have also trapped the communities in between.
“Nobody cares about us,” Davidson said. “That’s the way we’re feeling right now.”
It has now been five days since Highway 1 in the canyon was reopened for a short window so residents could leave town and get supplies.
However, some residents did not hear about it in time and some thought it was too dangerous.
“They gave us a time in the middle of the night to go down and it’s too unsafe to travel in the dark in an avalanche area,” Shirley Neilson, the Canyon RV Park owner told Global News.
Another huge concern is the lack of medical help in the communities.
An air ambulance is the only option right now if someone needs medical help.
“If I have a heart attack up here, I’m dead,” Neilson said. “There is no one up here who can help us.”
Another issue is dwindling food supplies, with grocery store shelves bare.
“People are sharing what they have so you really feel like you’re on a stranded island somewhere,” Neilson added.
The B.C. government is providing support to the communities via rail and air to bring in some food and medication but residents say a more proactive approach is needed.
“Whoever thought that we’d have communities cut off like we have had in these six months? But I can tell you, shame on us if we don’t do planning around it,” Jackie Tegart, the BC Liberal MLA for Fraser-Nicola, told Global News.
According to DriveBC, Highway 1 remains closed in both directions between Ainslie Road North and Kanaka Station Road for 16.1 km (Jackass Mountain Summit).
It currently has an estimated opening time of mid-January but the next update will be on Jan. 21.
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