B.C.’s Ministry of Highways says it will recommend an alternative route should there be a disruption of traffic on Highway 1A between the Trans Canada Highway and Crofton through the Halalt First Nation Reserve.
The Halalt announced in a letter dated April 5 that they intend to start charging tolls on commercial traffic passing through their territory, after having passed a bylaw March 7 for the regulation of traffic through the reserve.
As of Monday, May 4 no tolls were in effect and no disruption to traffic had taken place. Nor has notification been received by North Cowichan or the province as to when tolls might be charged for commercial vehicles passing through the reserve.
Requests for clarification from the Halalt First Nation have not been answered.
In a letter from Halalt Chief James Thomas and supporting documentation the Halalt say residential traffic is welcomed through their village, but that commercial traffic will be charged either $150 ‘per commercial transportation vehicle’ or a rate ‘agreed upon application to the Chief and Council, payable on a monthly basis.’
The decision to regulate traffic and charge tolls is in response to “a long standing trespass that has gone unaddressed by the Ministry of Transportation,” says the letter from Chief Thomas.
There are reports that some commercial vehicles began avoiding the Westholme Road section of Route 1A where it passes through the Halalt First Nations territory over concerns the toll might be charged.
The only feasible routes to Crofton from Highway 1 other than Route 1A would be: along Herd Road, then York Ave. through Crofton; or down Henry Road, skirting the town of Chemainus, then along Chemainus Road to Crofton Road.
North Cowichan’s Director of Engineering and Operations David Conway said those routes are up to arterial standards and that additional heavy commercial traffic would not cause deterioration of the roadways.
People would have to be notified of the changed traffic pattern. “Obviously, from a traffic point of view, it’s a significant increase through neighbourhoods that are not used to it,” Conway said.