You’ve really got to hand it to the rescuers, passersby and professionals alike who stepped up and braved the frigid waters of Spray Lakes Reservoir to aid the passengers of an SUV which crashed through the ice last week.
To selflessly plunge into freezing waters in an attempt to save a stranger’s life really says something of the rescuers’ intestinal fortitude. We tip our hats to all those who tried their best to ensure 2010 didn’t end even more tragically than it did (see page 4).
As anyone who has ever plunged into winter’s waters knows, hypothermia is quick to take hold. The fact that passersby in street clothes entered the reservoir to assist speaks volumes for them.
That said, we here at RMO cannot but help pose questions as to the safety of the site of this accident and the entire Spray Lakes Road.
Surprisingly, we have learned this road, also known to many as the Smith-Dorrien Road, is technically not a provincial highway and as such is not required to meet provincial highway safety standards.
Hence its winding, narrow nature, lack of side slope and guardrails. It is a road that must always be driven with an abundance of caution and care during winter or summer.
And as a result of these tragic circumstances, we see Alberta Transportation moving quickly ahead with a full in-service engineering and safety review of the entire road.
The only shameful aspect of this news is that it took the recent disaster of three people losing their lives and futures, and their families suffering an overwhelming loss for this to happen.
Officials say a consultant will be hired shortly and a completed review is expected by the end of March.
Maybe we are overly skeptical media types, but not only does this seem like a pipe dream, the question of whether the report itself will be made public after it is complete is a concern.
Let us recall that Highway 1A between Canmore and Exshaw received a full safety review by the same provincial department approximately five years ago.
As for the results of that safety review – they have yet to be released by Alberta Transportation to the public or the MD of Bighorn.
This is the same department that outright refuses to recognize or allow any form of recreational travel adjacent to a highway. That’s why there is currently no possibility of a paved trail from Canmore to Exshaw along the same highway.
Cyclists and rollerskiers, accordingly, travel at their own risk.
We sincerely hope that no matter what the safety review of Spray Lakes Road reveals, it will not only be released to the public, but acted upon.
With a push through Tourism Parks and Recreation and Travel Alberta to increase visitation to this neck of the woods by regional, national and international travellers, Kananaskis Country will undoubtedly see some of that action.
Whether visitors or locals, those using Spray Lakes Road deserve safety standards on a road many would consider to be a highway even if technically it is not.