Gerding: McKinley Road is always an accident waiting to happen

The sad fate of a 21-year-old Kamloops woman was probably not a shock to McKinley area residents.

The sad fate of a 21-year-old Kamloops woman who died from injuries suffered when her car crashed through the surface-frozen McKinley reservoir was probably not a shock to area residents.

The more likely response was why this hasn’t happened sooner, especially during the winter when icy conditions can make the windy sliver of a road that much trickier to negotiate.

Having driven along McKinley Road on many occasions, I know it can be a harrowing ordeal—especially at night. It is not a road for daydreaming drivers.

People I know who live in McKinley Landing tell me they get used to it from repetition, knowing where the steep curves are, where you can go the speed limit and where you are best advised to slow down.

How this isolated community was allowed to start up in the first place, without a decent road connection from either Clifton or Glenmore Roads remains a strange decision to begin with, the dream of a developer that the council of the day bought into.

The road was again part of the discussion in 2004 when city council approved the $500 million Vintage Landing development for the north end of McKinley Landing.

That decision was contentious at the time because city planning staff were against the project, and the McKinley Landing residential community was largely upset about it.

Oddly enough, the mayor at the time was Walter Gray, who cast the deciding vote in favour of the project.

After that vote was taken, one woman stormed out of the council chambers telling a Capital News reporter that “The (mayor) just signed his political death warrant.”

Back then, Gray was heading up a city in the midst of a real estate boom, and felt the need to accommodate developers bringing mega-project growth to the city. That comment proved prophetic as Gray lost his bid for re-election to Sharon Shepherd in 2005.

So here we are today. Vintage Landing hasn’t gotten off the ground yet, Gray won the mayor’s chair back from Shepherd in last month’s civic election. And the conditions of that road haven’t changed.

The city does have a plan to eventually connect McKinley Landing folks to the rest of the city’s urban sprawl by pushing through a new road at the south end of the subdivision, but many residents have expressed opposition to that idea in the past.

For now, the road carries on unchanged.

Perhaps this council might view it differently, especially since new Coun. Mohini Singh, during her CHBC reporting career, found herself as the lead news story of the day when the vehicle she was driving crashed down a McKinley Road embankment. She was OK but I’m sure it wasn’t a fun experience.

The example of that road remains a sad reminder this week of why development without a supportive infrastructure in place is not a particularly good idea.

Barry Gerding is the managing editor of the Kelowna Capital News.

 

kmichaels@kelownacapnews.com

 

 

Kelowna Capital News