Peachland mayor to bring Highway 97 rerouting issue to UBCM table

(From left) President of Ponderosa Golf Club Norm Porter, Penticton MLA Bill Barisoff and Peachland Mayor Keith Fielding cut the ribbon at the intersection of Ponderosa Drive and Highway 97 Saturday. - Wade Paterson/Capital News
(From left) President of Ponderosa Golf Club Norm Porter, Penticton MLA Bill Barisoff and Peachland Mayor Keith Fielding cut the ribbon at the intersection of Ponderosa Drive and Highway 97 Saturday.
— image credit: Wade Paterson/Capital News

When Peachland Mayor Keith Fielding meets with Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Mary Polak this week, he will tell her Highway 97 shouldn't be running through the heart of the district.

Fielding, along with elected representatives from municipalities throughout B.C., will get the chance to meet with various ministers at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities Convention in Victoria from Sept. 24 to 28.

"We are advocating for a Highway 97 bypass around Peachland that would go from north of Greata Ranch, just around Pincushion and out onto the connector," said Fielding.

"One of the reasons for that is because we don't want four-laning of the highway through Peachland."

Fielding said the district wants the current stretch of highway to become a local road. Making left turns onto the highway would then be safer and more predictable, said Fielding.

But such a project isn't on the province's list of short-term priorities.

"They've agreed in the past that we would be full partners in the analysis of routing options; so they fully understand our goals with respect to that.

"They tell us not within the next five or 10 years…so it's kind of a long-term project."

Fielding was at the grand opening of the new intersection at Ponderosa Drive and Highway 97 Saturday.

The project saw the joining of Ponderosa Drive and 13th Street at a new signaled intersection on Highway 97. A large retaining wall was also constructed as part of the project.

The Peachland mayor said the safety of the new intersection, compared to the old, is like "night and day."

"I know from using the intersection that you took your life into your hands every time you tried to turn left (onto the highway).

"Now we have a beautifully engineered intersection that is going to enhance public safety dramatically as well as bring a number of other benefits to the community with sidewalks, sewer extensions and a new drainage system."

Cory Barker of Aplin and Martin Consultants Ltd. was the project engineer and lead designer.

He said the process of constructing the retaining wall was unique.

"It's not a conventional wall where you start from the bottom and build up," said Barker.

"Because of the hillside above it, we actually had to start the wall from the top and build it down."

The $3.6 million project took a year of design work and five months of construction to complete.

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