British Columbia

Kamloops neighbourhood to get secondary emergency route

The fires in Fort McMurray last spring, which made officials think about the dangers of having only one exit from a neighbourhood, have led the City of Kamloops to push forward on creating a secondary escape route for residents living in the neighbourhood of Juniper Ridge.

Alberta fires prompt City of Kamloops to link the Juniper Ridge neighbourhood with an emergency route

The Kamloops' neighbourhood of Juniper Ridge will now be connected to Rose Hill via an emergency access road. (Doug Herbert/CBC)

The fires in Fort McMurray last spring, which made officials think about the dangers of having only one exit from a neighbourhood, have led the City of Kamloops to push forward on creating a secondary escape route for residents living in the neighbourhood of Juniper Ridge.

Officials 

"It's something we've considered for some time, but after what happened in Fort McMurray, it brought some new urgency to it," said the city's engineering and development supervisor, Jason Dixon.

"It will be gated. It's intended only as an emergency exit in the event of something terrible happening," he said.

The massive Fort McMurray wildfire made officials in Kamloops think about the dangers of having only one exit to neighbourhoods. (Terry Reith/CBC)

Safety concerns have been consistently raised by people living in the neighbourhood after the 2003 fires in the Kamloops and Barriere regions.

Gillian Stephenson has been in the neighbourhood for more than 30 years and currently chairs the Juniper Ridge Community Association.

She said she has been forced to leave her home a number of times since she moved there. During those times, there have been limited options to get out by car.

'Will make me personally very happy'

"That's been one point of contention that we've had for quite awhile because there was supposed to be an exit," she said.

According to Stephenson, many of the Juniper Ridge neighbourhood homes are surrounded by bush and residents frequently have hedges and trees close to their homes which increases the potential for fire danger.

"It doesn't take very much for things to flare up," she said.

She said having an additional exit is something people in Juniper Ridge ask the community association about regularly.

"It will make me personally very happy and the community as a whole, I think, very, very happy."

The city has just finished a route, that runs from the development that's being built by Highland Road over to Rose Hill.

Prior to this, the neighbourhood only had one vehicle access point into and out of the area. The city was able to regrade and improve an existing industry road to provide the new exit.

The road is ready to use now if there was an emergency, but the City of Kamloops will be monitoring it to ensure that it remains in good shape after the winter.

The improvements to the emergency exit cost the city around $15,000.

With files from CBC Radio One's Daybreak Kamloops