Oceanside RCMP officials say they have been inundated with calls regarding traffic issues from the road closure on the portion of Highway 19 from Horne Lake Road to Cook Creek Road for the filming of the movie Sonic the Hedgehog.
The closure from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. started on Sept. 10 and will last until Sept. 14, with the potential of extending it for another two days Sept. 15-16.
RCMP spokesman Cpl. Jesse Foreman said the increased traffic volume is in relation to the rerouting of traffic and he advises all motorists to be patient, cautious and respectful to others motorists, and traffic control personnel.
Foreman also stated that the Oceanside RCMP and RCMP Central Vancouver Island Traffic Services are patrolling the area and conducting enforcement as resources permit.
It is important to note, Foreman said, that should you need to call in a complaint, please include specifics, such as a description of the vehicle, infraction, licence plate number, direction of travel, etc.
One of the concerns raised by residents is safety.
A Horne Lake Road resident submitted a letter to the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) Claire Trevena seeking answers why the road closure started at 5:30 a.m. and went past 9:30 p.m. on Monday and asked about the speed that traffic is travelling at and the risk it posed to children walking home from bus stops or attempting to cross the road.
Prior to the road closure, a safety meeting was held with Electoral Area H (Deep Bay, Bowser, Qualicum Bay) director and Regional District of Nanaimo board Bill Veenhof, MOTI representatives, the production company Hedgehog Inc., the RCMP, the traffic management company, fire departments, BC Ambulance, Qualicum First Nation, and Vancouver Island North Film Commission (INFilm).
Veenhof had requested an increased traffic enforcement presence on Highway 19A during the detour period.
He specifically mentioned Qualicum Bay, Bowser and the four-lane stretch of 19A.
“The recent meeting was informative and collaborative, focused on safety and access for our residents, both drivers and pedestrians on Highway 19 and 19A through Bowser Village,” said Veenhof.
“I look forward to Hedgehog Inc. following through on their commitments to our community as discussed in these discussions. I greatly appreciate our community’s patience and the support of local emergency services to ensure safety for all during the Highway 19 closure and detouring through Bowser on Highway 19A.”
He said if people want to report traffic violations to the RCMP they should call the Oceanside detachment at 250-248-6111. For emergencies call 911.
Hedgehog Film Inc. has also recently confirmed it will make a $5,000 donation to Soupy Café and Food Bank in Bowser through the Lighthouse Community Centre Society, to thank the community of Bowser for its support and any inconvenience during the movie filming.