Lookout reopens after safety work
Nearly 20 months after a man drove his vehicle off the edge of the Merritt Lookout, Norgaard Ready-Mix made recent modifications to reopen the viewpoint.
The site was closed on Oct. 26, 2010, after a pickup toppled several hundred feet off the embankment. The lone occupant was taken to hospital and survived.
After discussions with the Ministry of Energy and Mines and an insurance company, Norgaard Ready-Mix co-owner Henry Norgaard unlocked the gates to the attraction approximately two months ago.
“It took a year and a half and considerable effort to do so, but after we satisfied the ministry that it was safe, we reopened the gates,” he said on Wednesday.
Norgaard said his company didn’t have to make any modifications, but did so for the community.
The company has installed fencing on both sides of the road leading up to the lookout, which features metal sights with the name of a location on the side.
When looking through the scopes at the top of the road, observers can see the location that is indicated.
Three new gates and barricade have also been added.
“We separated the viewpoint area from the mining area,” Norgaard said. “We can close it down if it becomes necessary.”
The ministry inspected the area before it was opened, and determined the mine and lookout were adequately separated.
Many people hike to the Canadian flag at the top of the hill, which has been open throughout the transition.
The flag is replaced approximately twice per year by Ready-Mix to keep it looking fresh. They installed it in 1985, Norgaard said.
“We wanted to have that open because that is where people take guests from out of town to show them Merritt.”
The lookout is also a destination for mountain bikers, but Norgaard said he discourages the activity because it can be dangerous on the steep slope.
The lookout can be accessed via Juniper Drive. Ready-Mix opened the site in 1975 and installed the scopes.