Residents in the Sooke area are continually being forced to wait in long line ups when there is an accident along Sooke Road. It is one of the most notorious stretches of road on Vancouver Island, and perhaps in all of B.C. It is tiresome, frustrating and inconvenient, no question.
We want to shake our fist and hurl nasty comments when we experience what appears to be an unnecessary closure along our road into and out of Sooke. But who is to blame for the road closures? First, it isn’t Sooke Fire Rescue, even though they are often first on the scene and are obviously there. The road is declared closed when the RCMP or the Ministry of Transport deem it is important enough to stop traffic.
Our fire chief said the police are usually on the scene first and they are obligated to contact MOT and then a decision is made. Fire Chief Sorensen said motor vehicle accidents are classified as crime scenes and the fire department has no say on traffic issues.
So when you are stalled in traffic and wonder why you are being made to wait, that’s the answer. The fire chief also said that if there is a fatality, then a traffic analyst, part of the highway patrol, has to attend to the scene and he/she is stationed up-Island in Parksville. (Is there no one in Victoria?) In the end, it is about the safety of the investigators, emergency personnel and the victims.
The important thing to remember is that accidents in most cases are caused by drivers.
What needs to be done though is to initiate and carry out plans for alternative routes in and out of Sooke, not just for road closures in the case of vehicle accidents, but also for the bigger picture. Many people know about backroads and old logging roads. Perhaps these need to be upgraded over time to allow for emergency travel out of the Sooke area. How else could you get away from the water if there was an earthquake or tsunami? Our regional and local emergency plans needs to include such evacuation plans. It’s time to get that act together and be prepared. A large overall plan for the entire south Island also needs to be looked at. Let’s get this together before it is needed, not after.