BC's forest service roads are being neglected: Auditor General

Forest roads neglected

The Auditor General of British Columbia has released a new report that shows the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development did not manage the safety and environmental risks of forest service roads last year.

Although forest service roads are primarily built to access timber, maintenance is still critical for public safety and for the environment.

The shortcomings in maintenance work and lack of reliable information and records around road maintenance increase the danger to road users and the environment, the report concluded.

The Auditor General says the lack of maintenance could be a result of not enough funding by the government.

"It is important to note, that in 2019-2020 natural resource districts received only about 25 per cent of their budget requests for maintenance on priority roads. Almost $9 million worth of high priority maintenance and repair work went unfunded," said Michael Pickup.

The Auditor General released a list of nine recommendations for the Ministry.

One recommendation urges the ministry to develop and implement a plan to inspect and maintain bridges and major culverts - areas often closed to the public because of how dangerous they are.

"The ministry's information on inventory and its inspections and maintenance records were inconsistent, difficult to share, and in fact, at times, inaccurate," Pickup said.

Another recommendation asks the government to create a plan that allows it to assess whether the private lumber companies are inspecting forest service roads as required by law.

The report notes that the province is often under pressure from recreational groups to avoid deactivating some backcountry roads despite safety issues they may pose due to a lack of maintenance.

To read the full report, click here.

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