What on earth must B.C. Minister of Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett be thinking, publicly attacking Mainroad Contracting on a Cranbrook radio station for its maintenance of East Kootenay roadways when the road and highway servicing company, according to what the East Kootenay General Manager has told The Valley Echo, has successfully passed a substantial number of provincial government audits already so far this winter.
The colder, snowy weather just began in November and 80 audits have taken place over the last two weeks. Only two measured below the government standard. That’s a high score of (rounding up) 98 per cent.
Clearly this is a case of politica, currying to constituents,earning easy bonus points with frustrated East Kootenay industry and drivers to boost a public profile weighed down by waning public support for Site C and BC Hydro debt. Don’t forget Bennett’s recommendation on the Site C hydroelectric dam project to the provincial cabinet is expected by Christmas.
On one hand, by publicly condemning Mainroad’s performance, Bennett is undermining the Liberal government’s efficacy when it comes to awarding contracts and casting doubt on its capacity to ensure public safety. A tad ironic, given the Mount Polley disaster earlier this year,which happened to fall directly within Bennett’s sphere of responsibility, being the Minister of Energy and Mines, whereas highway maintenance is another portfolio altogether.
But perhaps the complaints of the Facebook group “Taking Back East Kootenay Highways” are valid. After all, who really knows anymore since Mainroad has been maintaining the regional roadways for a decade, maybe more. Should another contractor take over, though, bets are their results wouldn’t be too far off the status quo simply because the East Kootenay is a challenging area to deal with. One thing is for certain: if you throw enough money at a problem like this, you will definitely see results. More money means more equipment, more trucks and more staff clearing the roads day and night.
Bennett’s in a position to make that happen and any smart politician will milk a good PR opportunity for all it’s worth. Mainroad, as it’s in the business of doing, just needs to weather the storm.