Lengthy detours for Summerlanders cut off by rock slide

Slide north of community has resulted in delays and inconveniences for some rural residents

Highway 97 is eerily quiet near Christine Harwood’s home north of Summerland.

Harwood, who lives on North Beach Road, just north of the rock slide area, said the normally busy highway now has little traffic.

The rock slide occurred on Jan 31 and since Feb. 2, the highway has bee closed at the site.

“It’s been challenging,” Harwood said. “I haven’t been to Summerland for a week now.”

And during the road closure, there have also been power outages as crews have been working on the slide area. “That was another challenge in this weather,” she said.

Because she lives close to the community, she normally comes into Summerland for business and appointments.

But now, since the road closure, the short drive has turned into a trek of several hours.

While crews are at work on the road, there is no set date when it will reopen.

“The uncertainty is probably what’s been the most stressful for me,” Harwood said.

Sue Eden, who also lives north of the slide area, has had to cope with the closure.

During the road closure, she has taken a lengthy detour into Summerland where she works. She then stays at a hotel for a couple of days before going back home.

“It’s an inconvenience, but it’s nobody’s fault,” she said.

Her work allows her a flexible schedule, but she wonders how the road closure would affect her if she had set hours at work.

For Eden, this is not the first time she has been affected by a highway closure.

The 2008 rock fault, which resulted in a three-week highway closure, meant lengthy detours for her to get to and from Summerland.

But despite the delays, her attitude is positive.

“We’re comfortable and we’re not isolated,” she said. “It just takes a little longer.”

Meanwhile Harwood is concerned about the future of the highway as she wonders whether another rock slide could also occur in the area.

“Will it happen again?” she asks. “My concern is the long-term stability.”

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