Emcon enlarges Nancy Greene Summit parking lot for skiers
Joe Mottishaw, the Kootenay Boundary division manager of Emcon, announced earlier this month that the company will be “widening and enlarging a parking area for [cross]-country skiers at the Nancy Greene Summit.”
Mottishaw noted that each year Emcon “provides two days of free service with a piece of equipment for a small community project within the contract service area.”
Last year Emcon installed a used “bailey bridge” for Greenwood that had been supplied by the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI).
Regarding this year’s project on Highway 3B, Mottishaw said, “Most of the skiers that use this area are from the Rossland area, with some being tourists. We hope this project will enhance and draw more tourists to the Rossland area.”
Council was pleased with the announcement. Coun. Kathy Wallace said there was a “high need” and the parking lot was “high use.”
“I’d like to congratulate Emcon on identifying it, and yes, get it done,” she said.
Coun. Tim Thatcher concurred it was “badly needed,” but asked, “Did we request this?”
Coun. Jill Spearn informed council that Friends of the Rossland Range (FORR) have lobbied Emcon for some time to increase ploughing service to parking areas beside ski destinations on the highway.
Coun. Kathy Moore suggested sending a thank you letter to Emcon, “especially since its their initiative.”
Moore also wondered about other high need areas along the highway, such as the biathlon parking area. “That’s another area that gets a lot of use in the winter, it would be nice if they’re going to expand the ploughing.”
A brief discussion concluded that it was not up to council but rather Black Jack Ski Club, FORR, and other user groups to lobby Emcon for other expansions to the service in that area.
Council agreed to send a thank you letter and, at Wallace’s suggestion, council also decided to send a representative—likely Mayor Greg Granstrom—to Emcon’s upcoming pre-winter maintenance meeting.
Kim Deane, FORR’s chairperson and main lobbyist on this issue, said it was “good news after years of waiting and enduring hazardous situations with cars parked alongside the highway in winter with very narrow traffic lanes and high speed traffic.”
“Celebrate this action, it is the most critical area,” Deane continued. He added, “Keep working for more.”
FORR’s Les Carter was excited: “This is very good news!” He estimated that parking traffic for backcountry access to the Rossland Range has increased ten-fold over the last 14 years.
“Emcon has done a great job in the past, considering that their contract included only minimal funds for clearing parking,” Carter said.
He noted that Emcon’s focus on the Nancy Greene Summit parking area is well chosen “because it’s the busiest by far—except when there’s an event at the biathlon range—and because it’s the only parking area other than the Plewman truck pullout that comes anywhere near to meeting MOTI standards.”
Carter explained that the biathlon parking area has problems with sight lines at the entrance and grades that make it very difficult to plough. “It’s a major ploughing project, not something Emcon could do ‘on the fly’ at present,” Carter said.
He added, however, “If the biathlon site were developed as a real parking area, I expect it’s use would suddenly become huge. It could be an access point both to the Black Jack and Biathlon trails, and to the backcountry skiing to the west.”
In the meantime, Carter suggested that backcountry users “wave to the plough guys. Say thanks! Write to Emcon and the Ministry and let them know you have noticed the change.”
FORR’s best practices for winter parking on Highway 3B
Les Carter had the following tips for parking safely at ‘point A’ before breaking trail on your winter adventures in the Rossland Range:
- Don’t park in the way of the snowploughs—perhaps tour a little farther to park in a cleared space off the highway.
- Park in ways that make the best use of the space.
- Carry a shovel, and expect that now and then you will have to make your own space or dig through a new berm of ploughed snow.
- After a snowfall, if you arrive before a parking area has been ploughed, park where your vehicle causes the least obstruction to clearing the rest of the lot. Even with increased funding, Emcon’s first priority must be to make the highway safe, so it may take some time for them to plough the parking.
- And don’t forget: Wave to the plough guys and say thanks!