SALMON ARM – The province is planning major upgrades to make the Trans-Canada Highway safer through Salmon Arm but one local business owner is worried the changes may also drive his customers away.
Right now the Trans-Canada Highway goes right past DeMille’s Farm Market’s front door making it easy for customers to turn in. However, owner Brad DeMille is worried about what will happen if planned Highway 1 upgrades change that.
“We’ve grown this business over the last 40-some years on the highway,” says DeMille.
“It is going to negatively affect us, there is absolutely no doubt. Everything we have done — the infrastructure, the buildings, the amount of staff we have, the amount of growers that we buy from….are going to be effected by that.”
The plans call for a realignment of the highway, which would relegate DeMille’s business to a frontage road. He worries it will make his farm market harder for customers to get to.
However, the province says it is just trying to make this part of the highway safer by fixing a section where the road makes a sharp turn on the Salmon River Bridge.
“People wanted that bridge addressed. This project will do that,” says Mike Lorimer, regional director for the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.
“It takes the sharp curve [and] lessens the curve. [It] puts us on a new four-lane bridge. It is a divided section of highway with no driveways coming on or off. We have safe access points.”
The ministry says you’ll still be able to see the businesses from the highway and get to them.
“At both ends of the frontage road are full movement intersections so you will be able to turn left off the highway [and] left onto the highway,” says Lorimer.
“You will be able to get to [the frontage road] from any direction safely.”
Salmon Arm councillor Chad Eliason says the city has been seeking bridge upgrades for years.
“Last weekend there was a fatality on the bridge, which re-engages the conversation of why we need the bridge, but unfortunately some people are going to be impacted, particularly the DeMille’s Farm Market,” says Eliason.
“We are trying to advocate for our residents to minimize the impact on them.”
The project is still being designed. The province says they have made changes since a video mockup of the plans was released but the broad strokes of the project, including the realignment of the highway away from the farm market, remain the same.
Officials are planning another round of consultation. No date has been set for construction on this part of the project to begin.