Engaging in Peachland bypass planning process

Three-person committee struck to initiate public process on merits of Peachland options to address highway traffic flow.

After years of lobbying the government to take a serious look at rerouting Highway 97 out of the heart of Peachland, an official BC Ministry of Transportation meeting was finally held.

Nearly 350 Peachland residents gathered at the community centre last Wednesday as the ministry started the official process to examine current and future transportation demands, and the option to create a bypass versus four-laning Highway 97.

The study is expected to take up to two years, although a recommendation either for a bypass or four-laning is likely to be generated sometime in 2017. The next public meeting will be in spring 2016.

“There’s a lot of factors that will be considered, not just financial…regarding viability of bypass,” said the ministry consultant who led the meeting, Jack Stuempel.

The ministry recognizes most people in Peachland probably favour a bypass, he said. “But this (public) engagement process is not, in itself, a vote for or against a bypass,” Stuempel said.

To get the process underway,  some 278 people voted for three community representatives from differing views on the bypass to join a pre-existing committee.

Sitting on the committee will be pro-bypass supporter representative Jeff McDougal, the against-bypass group representative Brent Froelich and the undecided Joe Klein.

The pre-existing group includes representatives from the Peachland Chamber of Commerce, an unspecified environmental group, the trucking association, First Nations, staff from Peachland and the Central Okanagan Regional District.