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‘It’s completely treacherous’: Paradise Valley residents critical of gravel road maintenance

District of Squamish says it annually grades the road 20 to 30 times; budget for all road maintenance for 2024 is $400,000.

Residents on the gravel road in Paradise Valley are calling on the District of Squamish to provide better maintenance, though the District says it regularly maintains the road.

Six residents in Paradise Valley met with The Squamish Chief with concerns about the District’s maintenance of the dirt road section of Paradise Valley Road, which starts just north of Midnight Way in the valley near an S-curve. 

Several said the road is often filled with potholes and that accessing the area could be troubling in emergencies.

“The potholes are bad,” said Lawrence Lambeau. “But when you add winter into it—you add snow, and then you add ice and very freezing temperatures—it’s completely treacherous.”

Lambeau said vehicles like ambulances could have trouble on roads in such conditions.

“The ambulance vehicle is a very heavy vehicle,” he said. “It's not designed for four-wheel drive access, and they get stuck easily because of the way they're designed.”

Rebecca Drewry also said there are dangers if everyone needs to get out in a hurry.

“The response time is one thing, but what if there's a forest fire and everybody has to get out?” she said.

When the road was at its worst, said Michael Ames, he couldn’t drive faster than 20 km/h, recalling bouncing high enough to hit his head inside the cab of his truck.

Several of the residents said it would help if the road could be graded at least once per week.

A spokesperson for the District said, on average, crews are grading Paradise Valley Road between 20 and 30 times annually. This estimation equates to about one to three times per month.

“All gravel roads within the District are graded regularly, including Paradise Valley Road, however, work is weather dependent,” wrote Rachel Boguski in an email to The Squamish Chief. “Paradise Valley Road is a rural road that services less than 15 properties within the District of Squamish and additional properties outside District boundaries within the Squamish Lillooet Regional District (SLRD).”

Yet, Drewry said many tenants and tourists use the road beyond the property owners.

“There's nothing about the tenants, and there's nothing about tourism,” said Drewry. “The tourism is crazy.”

For example, the road is considered part of the Sea to Sky Trail. At the end of the road, there is a campsite and hiking access to Starvation Lake.

“Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people through the summer come up,” said Lambeau.

Summertime driving also kicks up dust on the road, which Drewry previously discussed with The Squamish Chief

The District currently estimates that it would cost about $2 million to pave the road, which is double the estimation from Nov. 2022. 

That $2 million estimation far exceeds this year’s road maintenance budget. The District has a road maintenance budget of $400,000 for 2024, which covers the entire District’s road network. However, spending is not tracked specifically road by road.

Paving road a benefit of Paradise Trails project

One of the residents who met with The Squamish Chief, John Orr, also works for a Paradise Valley development project called Paradise Trails. 

Paradise Trails is a project aiming to build about 82 homes with rental suites on lots that range in size from about 0.1 to 0.81 hectares (0.25 to two acres). One of the components of the project is paving Paradise Valley Road up to the property. Orr asserted the project could pave the road correctly if the District allowed it to advance. 

The proponent of Paradise Trails recently asked the District to pause the rezoning of the project’s location, due to the area being in a high flood risk zone. The District honoured the request to pause. The District said back in July 2023 that they’ve maintained periodic correspondence with the project's proponent since 2012, but no development application has been submitted.

The District said residents of SLRD portion of Paradise Valley could “inquire directly with the SLRD about requesting road maintenance.” The Squamish Chief asked BC Hydro about its satisfaction with the maintenance of the road, considering it has an access point off the road, but the company did not reply to the inquiry.


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