It took some Glenrosa residents several hours to evacuate after the order was issued on Aug. 15 as they could only access one way out of the neighbourhood. (Tracy Pappin/Contributed)

It took some Glenrosa residents several hours to evacuate after the order was issued on Aug. 15 as they could only access one way out of the neighbourhood. (Tracy Pappin/Contributed)

Glenrosa residents call for second exit after recent evacuation traffic jams

Several properties were ordered evacuated when the Mount Law wildfire closed in

Glenrosa residents are once again calling on the City of West Kelowna for a second exit out of the neighbourhood after a recent rash of evacuation orders due to the Mount Law wildfire.

A petition is currently circulating in community groups, calling on the city to consider another exit route that doesn’t include going through a forested area when residents are fleeing from a wildfire.

Tracy Pappin is a former director of the Glenrosa Residents’ Association and she said residents have been calling for a second exit from the neighbourhood since 2009.

“We had the fire above the Gorman mill back in 2009 and it was pretty scary driving out of here when we were all evacuated,” she said.

“I personally got to drive down Glenrosa Road while the fire was crossing the road. It has been on the agenda to get more direct or safer exits (out of Glenrosa).”

Pappin said the current emergency exit travels up to Jack Pine Lake (formerly Crystal Mountain), then goes onto Bear Creek Main, which then comes out on Westside Road.

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“This is a single-lane gravel road without cell service and in complete darkness. You need a decent vehicle to drive that road.”

“As far as I know, with the Mount Law fire, they had closed down any access to use that second emergency exit, because it goes through a forest while a forest fire was happening.”

Pappin said, as a result, those on evacuation orders had no other choice but to go down the main road. With the sheer amount of residents leaving the area, as well as firefighting crews and machinery using the road, she said it was a chaotic traffic jam.

“When the orders came down, our main artery to get out was backed up all the way to my house. I live half a block down from where the fire hall is in Glenrosa on Gates Road,” she said.

Pappin said a four-hour traffic jam like that in an emergency is frightening, but also dangerous had the fire moved faster and further into the community.

“They need to come up with some other way to handle getting this amount of people out of the neighbourhood when we have an emergency,” she said.

In response to the petition, West Kelowna CAO Paul Gipps said that he always welcomes petitions and public engagement. The timing of the petition is great because the city is currently conducting a planning review which will also look at roads and transportation, he said.

“We have a planning and advanced planning team taking notes for the next emergency and figuring out what we can implement immediately to make sure evacuations go smoothly,” said Gipps.

To sign the petition, click here.

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B.C. Wildfires 2021City of West Kelowna