Dear Editor:

The Yellowhead bandits have stolen the Coquihalla Highway. And the provincial government let them do it, shame on them.

If the Merritt & District Chamber of Commerce had any knowledge of history they should be spitting mad. It was the Merritt Chamber that led the caravans in the 1960s and 70s to promote the building of the alternate route to the coast.

A review of the Merritt Herald archives tells us that the Merritt Chamber, sometimes joined by the chambers from Kamloops and Hope, organized these caravans from 1963 to at least 1972.

The Merritt Herald archive of September 1971 says a petition was sent to the then Minister of Highways, Wesley Black urging the construction of the Coquihalla Highway.

The Coquihalla Highway construction I believe commenced construction in the 1980s and the first phase between Hope and Merritt was opened in 1986 in time for Expo 86.

The phase between Merritt and Kamloops was opened in 1987.

It’s always been known as the Coquihalla Highway until 2011,and then suddenly Yellowhead Highway signs appeared. No local public discussion on the matter.

Why we’d want this highway named after a pass in Alberta is beyond me. It should take more than an old boys club (Yellowhead Highway Association) headquartered in Edmonton to make a decision like this. Further support for calling it the Coquihalla Highway is that Drive B.C. calls it that as do highway reports from NL Radio in Kamloops and weather reports on Global BC TV.

I believe this is little local support for calling the Coquihalla Highway the Yellowhead. The City of Kamloops and the District of Hope are not members of the Yellowhead Highway Association. The City of Merritt joined the Yellowhead Highway Association in 1999 (12 years after the completion of the Coquihalla Highway) for reasons we can only speculate.

The Yellowhead Highway Association may have had some relevance years ago when there was a desire to have a highway constructed or completed between Prince Rupert and Winnipeg but now they’re just an old boys club who have at least annual meetings at considerable taxpayers’ expense.

They are deluded into thinking they are providing tourism promotion. I wouldn’t think of using their website for any trip planning, in this day and age every village, town and city has a website that’s far more useful. Even more useful are the provincial tourism websites which are professionally run.

There is now a rumour that the Yellowhead Highway Association wants to extend its designation to the Trans Canada Highway to Abbotsford, how ridiculous is that? I guess it’s an attempt to justify the association’s existence. I think it will just add to highway clutter.

Elmer Reimer

Former Merritt City Councillor and Coquihalla Caravan participant