Christa-Lee McWatters

Mother and daughter separated by road closure

Five-minute drive now three to four hour trek as a result of rock slide north of Summerland

For Christa-Lee McWatters and her mother Cathie McWatters, a visit involved a five- to 10-minute drive — until a rock slide closed a portion of Highway 97 north of Summerland.

Now, a face-to-face visit involves three to four hours of driving time.

Cathie McWatters lives north of the slide area while Christa-Lee McWatters lives in Summerland, to the south of the slide.

“We’re worried about her,” Christa-Lee McWatters said.

There are two alternate routes in place to connect the South Okanagan with places north of the slide.

One of these is along Highway 3A, Highway 3, Highway 5A and Highway 97C. This route adds

While the road has been closed, Cathie McWatters has also had to deal with some lengthy power outages during some of the coldest days of the winter.

But Cathie McWatters said the road closure is an annoyance, not a crisis.

“It’s not too bad,” she said. “I’m not really that inconvenienced.”

From where she lives, she is able to go to Peachland, West Kelowna and Kelowna.

While she had a bill to pay in Summerland, she was able to do this online, without making a trip into the community.

But she added that she would like to be able to come to Summerland.

“I can’t see my kids and my grandkids,” she said.

This is not the first time an incident on the highway has left Cathie McWatters’ home cut off from Summerland

In October and November, 2008, a fault in the rock face was discovered during the highway widening project at the time. This fault resulted in the closure of the highway for around three weeks.

At that time, she was in Summerland, staying with her daughter until the road reopened.

More recently, during the wildfires last summer, she was among those living north of Summerland who were evacuated because of the fire risk.

Earlier, plans were to have the highway opened on the afternoon of Feb. 6, but that morning, a new and significant crack was discovered near the slide.

Crews are now working to stabilize the rock face, but a timeline for the reopening of the highway is not known at present.

Staff at the Visitor Information Centre in Summerland say they have had inquires about road conditions on alternate routes to Kelowna.

At Canada Post, mail is still being delivered, but the route for the mail trucks has changed and as a result, mail pickup and delivery times have been affected.

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