Jenny Oakey, a resident of Aspen Grove, is hoping to call attention to the problem of vehicles speeding through the residential area in which she lives.
A small community just 30 kilometres southeast of Merritt, Aspen Grove is situated on Hwy 5A, a route that connects Princeton with Merritt and Hwy 97C the Okanagan Connector.
Although the speed limit through the settlement is 70 km/hr, Oakey notes that vehicles often exceed the limit, travelling 100 or 120 km/hr.
Oakey began gathering signatures for a petition to address this issue, hoping to improve road safety in the area. An RCMP officer’s wife signed and informed her husband, who decided to head out and investigate.
The RCMP came up, they’ve been up there a couple of times since,” said Oakey.
“He said, oh my gosh you are so right, these people are going 30 kms over the limit, and my hand is sore from writing tickets.”
Oakey used to ride her horse down the highway in order to access Crown Land, but said she has now stopped the practice as she fears being struck down by speeding vehicles. Instead, she has installed a new gate on her property that allows her to cross the highway directly onto Tillery Rd.
The labourer who installed her fencing, as well as BC Hydro crews working in the area, both observed that the vehicles were travelling at much higher speeds through the 70 km/hr zone.
“The propane truck guy said this is an awful place to deliver to, because he has to back in from the road,” Oakey added.
Oakey said that her neighbours have nearly been hit coming out of their driveway on more than one occasion, and that dogs have been killed by speeding vehicles as well. Although passenger vehicles aren’t obeying the speed limit in many cases, Oakey believes the commercial trucks such as semis and logging trucks are a big issue.
“Typically, when the big trucks are coming from Princeton through to 97C, they’ve gone through a lot of winding road prior to this, the road is tough, it’s a tricky road,” said Oakey.
“And now they’ve got a straight away from Kidd Lake, and it says 70, but they’re not going 70. They come over that hill and police are clocking them at 100. Is it going to take something happening? An accident up there? The kids are little right now, but when they get on bikes and stuff, can you imagine a semi coming down there and a kid happens to be on the road?”
Oakey’s petition lists several possible ways to counteract the speeding, including lowering the speed limit to 50 km/hr, using a flashing speed sign to inform people they are over the posted limit, moving the speed limit sign on the approach to the residential area further back to encompass a longer stretch of road, upping RCMP enforcement, or installing speed bumps.
“Obviously more enforcement is key,” said Oakey.
I would love to see the speed limit reduced, I would love to see a flashing solar sign that says, you know, this is your speed slow down. Speed bumps would be amazing, people might pay attention. It’s 70 there for a reason, but nobody’s doing it, that’s my whole beef. Do we have to get it reduced to 50 so you guys go 70? Or do we put speed bumps, what do we do here? Or do we have regular enforcement so maybe you’ll pay attention and know that there’s going to be patrol out here, so you have to slow down or you’re going to get a ticket?”
So far, the petition, which Oakey has submitted to RCMP and Ian Pilkington, Chief Engineer of Highway Operations with MOTI, has garnered 115 signatures, something that Oakey said was no easy feat during COVID.
Pilkington replied and informed her that he was going to pass her concerns and the petition along to those responsible for the area. Oakey hopes to see something sooner rather than later.
“We need to do something about it or else someone is going to get hurt… it’s just a matter of time.”
Morgan Hampton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Merritt Herald