Tk’emlups te Secwepemc continues to limit access to Salish Road between Halston Avenue and West Shuswap Road, a potential permanent solution in preventing motorists from using band land as a speedy shortcut.
Tk’emlups Chief Rosanne Casimir said the move, which will allow access only to residents of that area, addresses the problem of vehicles speeding through a residential zone, which she said was made worse when construction started on West Victoria Street in downtown Kamloops.
“Bottom line, it’s about community safety,” Casimir told KTW.
Casimir wants to make clear the measure is not a closure nor a roadblock.
She said her office has been inundated with phone calls from residents since the beginning of the city’s West Victoria Street reconstruction project downtown and called traffic impacts “unbelievably significant” as drivers seek alternate routes to and from downtown.
However, traffic travelling through the reserve was a problem before the downtown street project began last month.
The band in recent months sought to reduce speed by posting signs around the reserve to remind motorists to “drive like your children live here.”
“We’ve always had problems with speeders throughout the area and congestion, give or take, depending on what day of the week it was,” Casimir said.
Drivers use the residential roads of the reserve to avoid busy Yellowhead Highway, made busier with the downtown project.
Asked if limiting access would add to congestion on the Yellowhead Highway, Casimir said she is not concerned. Driving on the highway is different from driving on the reserve, she said, which has little safety lighting and few stop signs and sidewalks. The area has people walking frequently in the area, including kids who take the bus.
Casimir is asking motorists to use caution, reduce speed and respect traffic and routing signage.
In response to the move, some people have gone online to complain about the inconvenience. Others have posted outright racist comments.
Casimir said one driver stopped and yelled profanities related to the Salish Road access issue at an elder, who was outside with grandchildren at the time.
“It was not his fault,” Casimir said.
She said the band consulted with businesses in the area, from which she has not heard any negative feedback. She said it is not the band’s intention to cause further hinderance related to the city’s construction project, but noted safety comes first.
“Before making a negative statement, find out the facts and why we’re doing it,” Casimir said. “It’s not to cause further hinderance. It’s about community safety. It’s about keeping people safe and peaceful enjoyment.”