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Mayor and MLA discuss highway safety

Online petition launches calling for more centre barriers on Highway 99


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Pressure to add more traffic dividers on Highway 99 is mounting following the death of two UBC students on the highway Nov. 23.

MLA Jordan Sturdy and Whistler Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden discussed the idea separating north and southbound traffic in undivided segments of the highway on Monday, Dec. 2.

"Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) is looking at it but the reason barriers weren't installed there in the first place was the cost," Wilhelm-Morden wrote in an Internet post.

In an interview, the mayor said Sturdy advised her that he had spoken with the RCMP and MOTI officials about possibly installing barriers in the places where the highway is undivided.

"Barriers weren't installed when the highway was upgraded in advance of the Olympics because of the expense," said Wilhelm-Morden. "This particular area is winding and narrow so it's probably unlikely that barriers will be installed there, but they are considering what kind of mitigating work they can do."

Wilhelm-Morden said Sturdy is the right person to discuss the issue with because of his role as the parliamentary secretary to the transportation and infrastructure minister.

The mayor noted a provincial consultation process regarding highway safety and speed limits began on Tuesday, Dec. 3. The RMOW is considering making a submission as part of the public consultation process headed up by the province.

Meanwhile, anyone who feels centre-line barriers should be installed in sections of Highway 99 where they don't currently exist can sign an online petition. The petition is to be delivered to Premier Christy Clark, and as of Tuesday the number of petition signatures sat at just over 100. The petition was launched on Nov. 28.

"I have total faith that this could happen," said petition creator Arne Guttmann.

"Two young women lost their lives because there was no median. Their deaths could have been avoided."

Gutmann said he didn't have a signature number in mind. He suggested 10,000 to 15,000 signatures would be a good number to take to the premier at some point before the next election.

Olivia Sonja Robertson and Valentine Leborgne, both 19, died when the vehicle they were in crossed the centre line five kilometres north of Lions Bay and crashed into a southbound pickup truck. Two other women in the vehicle were also injured. The driver of the pick-up truck received minor injuries.