Moore Mountain residents are once again fighting to keep the Frizzi Road access to the Williams Lake River Valley open.
It’s the route the residents have used for more than 30 years to commute to and from Williams Lake.
Last December the city closed the road citing safety concerns.
When the residents fought successfully to have it re-opened, the city agreed but put up signage indicating the road was being used at people’s own risk.
After a large rain event on July 12, 2016, the city closed the switchback portion of Frizzi Road because of washout damage.
Since then Moore Mountain residents have been using the Comer Street access, where they are expected to unlock and lock a gate each time because of a nearby CN railway crossing.
A week ago the city did some cross drainage work on Frizzi Road to redirect water from going into the creek.
Residents of Moore Mountain told the Tribune they were not consulted about the work and that the ditching had made the road impassable.
“With the amount of dirt they moved, they could have fixed it,” said Bari Moore who has lived on Moore Mountain since 1979. “Those ditches are six feet deep.”
Landowner Linda Hillegeist addressed city council and staff on behalf of the residents and landholders during their committee of the whole meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 23.
She asked them to defer making a decision to permanently close Frizzi Road until all parties, including the general public and every stakeholder, have a chance to give input.
“This decision does not just impact 17 residents, this impacts many people,” Hillegeist said, noting ranchers and recreation users rely on the road as well.
While they appreciate the rain storm on July 12 was of high intensity, Hillegeist said they do not agree that the road itself failed, but the pooling water and excess runoff from industrial property above directly contributed to the washouts.
When Hillegeist asked if the gate could be removed at the Comer Street access, she was told by the city’s development services manager Leah Hartley the gate is there because of the railway crossing.
“We have let CN know that you guys have keys and are using that entrance,” Hartley said.
Hillegeist also asked if someone could clear the edges of the road from Comer Street so drivers can see people walking along the road, that lighting be installed at the gate for access and safety purposes, and assurance that the road will be maintained.
Mayor Walt Cobb said the city has written to the Cariboo Regional District, the Ministry of Forests Lands and Natural Resource Operations and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure asking for help on the situation.
“We have committed $30,000 in the budget to find a long-term solution to this problem,” Cobb said, but noted to date the ministries have written reply letters indicating they are not interested,
The city has not heard back from the CRD, he added.
During the committee of the whole meeting, council agreed to bring a resolution to a future city council meeting to write a letter to the ministries, acknowledging their correspondence.
“Since they were not willing to participate in a multi-agency plan, we will ask them what are their plans?” Cobb said.
In recent meetings with the ministries staff has learned that none of the roads in the River Valley have any designations as a right of way, a gazetted, dedicated or permitted road, Hartley said.
Hillegeist said Frizzi Road is shown as the access to her property and has been since she bought it in 1993. She will be seeking legal counsel, she added.