Residents living near Williams Lake are battling city hall, angry that access to their homes has been cut off.
“We’ve used this access for 40 years,” says Linda Hillegeist, who is one of 17 residents that live on Moore Mountain.
They’ve always used the Frizzi Road access to get from their homes to Williams Lake, even pitching in to maintain it when conditions are rough. But the city has decided it’s too dangerous to leave open any longer.
“Without any consultation to homeowners or the public or recreation users, December 11 the sign went up advising us to call city hall, and that our road was being closed as of December 18,” says Hillegeist.
The city is asking them to use Comer Road to get to their homes instead. But that adds over 20 minutes to their commute – and a heavy locked gate needs to be opened anytime they use it.
“Like my 72-year-old dad’s going to be able to do this?” says Hillegeist.
“I find this road and so do the neighbours to be far more unsafe. There are people down there, there’s traffic, as we came up there were children…on the road.”
For their part, the city says they’ve done geotechnical studies, and with residents able to sue the city if anyone has an accident, there’s too much of a risk to keep it open.
“Our own city staff have felt it’s unsafe to go down this steep sloughing road that’s built on silt. We made the decision that it was purely based on safety, no budget concerns whatsoever,” says Jason Ryll, a Williams Lake councillor.
“We’re not preventing them from getting to their homes by any means, we’re just suggesting a safer route.”
But the residents affected don’t feel it’s a suggestion.
“We’re the victims of the city council,” says Don Wise.
“As far as we’re concerned, they’re renegades.”
– With files from Julia Foy