Years back, a journalism student was on his way to Nakusp to fill in at the Arrow Lakes News during the editor’s springtime vacation.
For some reason, the ferry at Shelter Bay was not running, so the intern decided to take the forest service road down the west side of the Arrow Lakes to catch the Fauquier ferry.
He took off down the dirt road in his compact Honda. Eventually, he encountered several feet of snow – likely on some unused side road – and turned around.
He limped into Nakusp many, many hours later with only fumes left in the tank (after cadging some gas from someone in the ferry line-up). Had he got stuck on the west side of the lake, who knows what would have happened.
West Arrow Park resident David Coleman thinks the Ministry of Forests should improve the signage on the west side of the Arrow Lakes, since the roadway serves as a vital link for residents and a detour for many who encounter unreasonable waits at the ferry crossings.
He feels better signage could have helped avert the tragedy that led to the death of Kyung Chun, a Burnaby mushroom picker who died sometime in September or October. Chun’s van got stuck while trying to turn around on a logging road, after he turned off the main road.
Coleman also feels better signage could have helped avert the Lemon Creek fuel spill, which happened after a fuel truck took a wrong turn.
Coleman said he regularly gets asked for directions from lost motorists, who get confused by the many forks on the road.
“The forks look like the main road and the logging trucks use them,” Coleman said. “A lot of cars take the logging road and wind up on a dead end. There’s always a new fork in the road.”
Coleman copied his letter to the forests ministry to the Arrow Lakes News.
We put the question to the transportation and forests ministries.
A forest ministry spokesman passed on a statement from a local ministry staff member: “People who head off paved highways should be aware that backroads do not have the same level of maintenance and monitoring. They should prepare themselves with knowledge of the area, a suitable vehicle, and ideally a map.”
The transportation ministry spokesperson said the ministry is trying to improve directions to recreation sites, including better online maps.
Over at the Ministry of Transportation, a spokesperson said forest service roads are not their jurisdiction.
But what about ferry outages and half-day waits on peak weekends that prompt people to take the alternate route?
“In an emergency situation, where the normal public roads are not available, the ministry will determine alternate routes and ensure they are fit for travel prior to sending drivers down them,” reads a transportation ministry statement to the Arrow Lakes News. “They will also ensure the detour route is marked/signed and/or traffic control personnel are stationed at decision points.”
The transportation ministry also said mixing vehicle traffic with logging trucks is dangerous.
In summary, travellers arrive at Shelter Bay, where there is no cell service, detour down the road and get lost, but the ministries responsible advise motorists that they do so at their own risk, and don’t have plans to mark the route.