CRESTON, B. C. - It's been three years since we first reported on the struggles of Dan and Bonnie Ward, owners of a mom-and-pop country store that wanted to convert their small diner into a 24-hour tr...
CRESTON, B. C. – It’s been three years since we first reported on the struggles of Dan and Bonnie Ward, owners of a mom-and-pop country store that wanted to convert their small diner into a 24-hour truck stop for road-weary truckers.
They had the land to do it – they’re adjacent to 10 acres, enough to park 100 trucks. And definitely the location, at the foot of the Salmo Creston Pass – the highest peak in Canada, where a tired trucker faces the frightening prospect of careening off a cliff if he or she’s not razor sharp.
However, after three years of locking horns with various government bodies, the Ward’s have still been unable to get the provincial Ministry of Transportation on-board.
In a letter to Ward dated Nov. 2, 2007, John Dowler, district manager with the DoT listed three reasons why the department would not assist in constructing a truck pull-out at the restaurant.
“The truck pull-out does not satisfy minimum highway engineering safety requirements; the Ministry of Transportation has not received any correspondence from truck drivers, truck companies or trucking associations outlining this issue as a concern; and public funds would be more effectively used to address truckers’ concerns at existing rest areas or in areas with a variety of services available,” Dowler wrote.
That reasoning is weak, counters Ward, who notes there are no existing commercial vehicle rest areas in the region. He points out the Salmo Creston Pass is often closed due to weather and truckers don’t have a safe area to park and rest at its base.
He also explains city bylaws prevent truckers from parking their rigs within Creston town limits, leaving them without any options. He’s hoping truckers and the associations that represent them will rally behind the cause and help convince the Ministry that the rest area is needed.
“I’m hoping to encourage every trucker, trucking company and association to drop these people an e-mail saying it is needed,”he tells Truck News. “Hopefully, if we have a big enough response, not only will they widen the ditch but perhaps they’ll make a full and proper truck pull-out.”
Ward’s lobbying has achieved more favourable results with local governments. Tom Mann, a director with the Regional District of Central Kootenay, wrote “There is no serviced rest stop area in the Creston Valley and as a result, large highway trucks are often stopped on the roadway outside of 7-11 or other convenience stores. A rest stop at this location would provide a location that truckers could stop at to purchase supplies or just take a break before climbing the summit.”
And Bev Caldwell, representing the Town of Creston also voiced her support. “Please be advised…Council offered its support…for the filling in of the ditches on both sides of Hwy. 3 at the junction of Hwy. 3 and Nicks Island Road, for the safety of both pedestrian and vehicular traffic,” she wrote.
But because the area falls under provincial jurisdiction, it’s the DoT that needs to sign off on any zoning or roadwork. And Ward also wants the province to help with the engineering costs that would be required to comply with Transportation Association of Canada design standards.
“It’s a very small mom-and-pop business and I don’t have $100,000 to hire engineers,” he told Truck News when we first discussed the issue back in 2005.
The lack of proper parking facilities and a safe pull-out have not deterred truckers from stopping at Mugwumps for one of its hearty sandwiches. Drivers are discouraged from parking in Creston town limits and they often welcome an opportunity to charge up with a home-cooked meal before ascending the Salmo Creston Pass.
“They’re still coming in, we’re getting anywhere from three to 15 trucks a day but that’s peanuts,” says Ward, a former trucker himself. “The Town of Creston doesn’t want them, I would welcome them. I’d go 24 hours a day.”
But as it stands now, Ward cringes when he sees truckers having to cross two lanes of traffic to get in and out of the undersized parking area. Recently, a loaded cattleliner ended up on its side after dropping its wheels into the very ditch Ward has been asking the province to fill in.
“We got all the cattle back standing, so it wasn’t a disaster, but it very well could have been,” Ward said.
If you think there’s a need for a commercial vehicle rest area at the base of the Salmo Creston Pass, Ward would love to hear from you. He can be reached at 250-428-0120. He also offers up several contacts at B. C.’s Ministry of Transportation: John Dowler, firstname.lastname@example.org; and Transport Minister Kevin Falcon, kevin. email@example.com.
Ward’s hoping that truckers will rally together to prove there’s a need for the truck pulloff and parking area and that the province will eventually help make the expansion a reality.