Deadly stretch of Trans-Canada has Revelstoke funeral director calling for improvements

The Trans-Canada between Golden and Revelstoke is the most dangerous highway in province, according to the Insurance Bureau of British Columbia.

"We want to be known as a place to visit, not a place to be stuck in," said Gary Sulz.

Cars backed up along Highway 1 between Revelstoke and Golden, B.C. after a January crash that killed two people. (Tyra Armstrong via Twitter)

Many Albertans who ski and vacation in British Columbia know the stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway between Golden and Revelstoke — notorious for closures and fatal crashes.

Since 2004, more than 40 people have been killed in traffic accidents on that area of Highway 1, according to the Insurance Bureau of British Columbia — making it the most dangerous road in B.C.

Revelstoke funeral director Gary Sulz is urging the provincial and federal governments to make improvements.

Sulz, who is also a city councillor, assists the coroner every time someone dies.

"It definitely takes its toll. It takes its toll on myself, the coroner, the police, fire rescue personnel and even the tow truck people" he said.

The road itself winds 148 kilometres through the Purcell Mountains where many sections are two lanes with no barrier between them. 

Sulz said some locals call it a "goat trail."

"The road is very windy and very high, so you can go from one section that's very bare and within 10 kilometres be into a snow storm and another 10 kilometres you're clear," he said.

He wants to see the highway become four lanes with a barrier throughout the entire stretch, but understands that will be expensive and take time.

In the meantime he wants to see better maintenance on the road.

"During the winter time, the local people do the maintenance that they're needed and required to do, but maybe that's not enough," he said.

Sulz has met with Minister of Transportation Todd Stone, and said the minister was "very receptive" to his appeal.

"When we state facts as to how many people are dying on our roads, it becomes a provincial issue. Not everybody that's dying on those roads is local," he said.

Stranded travellers seek refuge at church

The frequent crashes and unpredictable weather conditions lead to frequent closures — sometimes days at a time.

"We want to be known as a place to visit, not a place to be stuck in," said Sulz.

The C3 Church in Revelstoke often takes in travellers who find themselves stranded.

The C3 Church in Revelstoke takes in stranded travellers while Highway 1 is closed. (Josiah Olson/C3 Church)

"We'll send out a tweet or Facebook and people just start showing up," said lead pastor Dave Olson.

Olson said it started with a call from the Chamber of Commerce asking them to provide a warm space.

"People eat and they bring games out. We usually throw a movie on for the kids and do what we can to help people out and try to find a spot for them to stay overnight," he said.

With files from CBC British Columbia.


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