The completion of the Highway 3 Corridor Economic Impact Study looked at the economic impacts of the highway in relation to nearby communities, including Grand Forks.
The study, completed by Vancouver-based Davies Transportation Consulting Inc., was done at the request of community mayors and board chairs.
Grand Forks Mayor Brian Taylor noted the study was part of the argument for upgrading certain sections of the highway that were deficient.
“Simply put, (the highway is) a lifeline to us and the rest of the province,” explained Taylor. “We have (a railway) going south now, going into the U.S., but the highway is basically the main artery for the community, so both east and west, we rely on it. We would probably suffer tremendously if there was any slow down or loss of mobility on that route.”
The study looked at each city’s individual history, from Princeton to Osoyoos, and then from Grand Forks up to Nelson.
In Grand Forks, the study revealed the distribution of employment by industry sector, based of the 2006 census data, had construction jobs at eight per cent, food and agriculture at four per cent, mining at one per cent, and forestry at 16 per cent.
The three major industrial operations in Grand Forks came from International Forest Products Ltd. (Interfor) mill, which was originally operated by Pope and Talbot from 1969 until Interfor purchased it in 2009; granulated slag produced by Pacific Abrasives; and Roxul Inc., which operates a plant producing mineral wool insulation in Grand Forks.
Tourism in Grand Forks is also limited to the eastern and western end of the corridor, but has a large cultural history and outdoor opportunities.
“I think any improvements to Highway 3 in general will help out Grand Forks,” said Taylor. “We have our own challenges in town here in identifying the city to travelers going through, but I think that’s always been a challenge for communities that are not like Greenwood on the main road.”
Taylor added in terms of bottleneck areas along the highway, it could affect commercial traffic and possibly affect the vacation traffic as well.
The mayors will be looking at the impact of the highway on their communities to determine what the future of the highway and its surrounding communities will be.
He pointed out the section between the EC Manning Provincial Park entrance entering Princeton has always been a horrible place for accidents.
“There’s a long-term plan to look into bypassing that and coming straight across from the park entrance to Grand Forks or to Princeton without all the problem areas of switchbacks and slowdowns,” he said of a possible new road.
“That would improve, in general, Highway 3 as a traffic route, but there are other areas too. Some other areas are narrow and difficult to transition through.”
The study itself is a good initiative on the part of mayors in the province, noted Taylor.
To see the study, visit Grand Forks City Hall website www.city.grandforks.bc.ca and go to “City Council Meetings” for the Sept. 17 regular meeting agenda.