The Cariboo Regional District wants to educate newcomers to the area about buying remote properties, especially when it comes to their local roads.
Directors noted many people are snapping up rural properties - often sight unseen - without realizing they may be responsible for the upkeep of their road, especially if it is designated user-maintained or a Forest Service Road.
The CRD is calling on the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and local realtors to educate people about the implications of these properties, especially as roads across the region continue to deteriorate.
In 2020, a very wet year resulted in multiple culvert failures, land movement, road failure, properties cut off, and long-term evacuations.
“The province needs to ramp up its communications with folks. We have folks that are out at the end of what they assume is a road and in essence, it’s not, so they start to look for supports and services that no one’s going to offer them,” said CRD Chair Margo Wagner, who lives in Canim Lake. “I have a road where ambulances flatly refuse to go anymore.”
Directors will seek a meeting with Rob Fleming, B.C’s minister of Transportation and Infrastructure to push the need for more funding to fix and maintain provincial roads across the region. They will also recommend the ministry consider putting a designated communications person in charge of taking calls from residents.
Wagner suggested the board also have more discussions with realtors, saying she knows of at least six houses in her area that sold for $500,000, sight unseen and with no conditions.
“I have been talking to realtors to try and encourage or explain that if people are interested in buying a house, phone me. So often there’s no understanding of what’s involved when you move up here and what services you can realistically expect,” Wagner said. “They’re coming from areas that are well serviced and they’re expecting to have exactly the same when they move up here.”
Electoral Area E Director Angie Delainey said the whole region is affected. “I’ve got people in the slide zone concerned about selling their houses and having to disclose there’s a foundation crack,” she said.
Al Richmond, director for Area G - Lac La Hache-108 Mile Ranch blamed the province for neglecting roads and culverts for decades.
“There’s not one electoral area immune to this,” he said. “The ministry is not doing its job. It doesn’t have the funding and it’s going to get worse. We need to take it to ministry and say ‘you’ve got to come up with a plan for rural roads.’ They just can’t manage them anymore. there’s too many.”
Mitch Campsall, mayor of the District of 100 Mile House, agreed. “The biggest problem we have is we have to get on top of MoTI and make sure they’re monitoring this stuff. Our roads are no different than everywhere across the province. It’s going to be a tough sell to think they’re going to come into the Cariboo and fix the roads here because 99 percent of roads across the province are in the same condition.
“This is a crisis and it’s not getting better. It’s going to get worse and worse.”
A spokesperson with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure said in an email to the Free Press that high groundwater conditions brought on by spring melt and an unusually wet fall are contributing to current road surface issues. The ministry maintains the South Cariboo service area has a 10-year maintenance contract, which took effect on June 1, 2019, at an annual value of $15.9 million.
This money is used for everything from pothole patching to maintenance of gravel roads, signage maintenance, bridge repair, crack sealing, snow and ice control, drainage management and traffic management, the email stated.