Peachland council is continuing to advocate for a bypass route as long-term solution to Highway 97 upgrade. (Contributed)

Peachland council divided over bypass delay response

Mayor Cindy Fortin and Coun. Keith Fielding clash over letter

A formal response to the 20-year delay in a long-term solution to Highway 97 traffic in Peachland has proven divisive for the district council.

At a special council meeting last Thursday (Aug. 20), a letter of protest over that delay intended for B.C. Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Claire Travena drew the ire of Mayor Cindy Fortin, who wanted more time for council to discuss how to move forward in the wake of the disappointment over the delay decision, which councillors formerly heard from ministry officials at their Aug. 11 council meeting.

The letter was written by Coun. Keith Fielding, who was serving as acting mayor at the time while Fortin was on vacation, and submitted to council for approval under Fortin’s name.

The letter stated: “There are significant problems at several intersections and the proposed solutions makes considerable sense. However, the decision by MOTI to defer consideration of a long term solution is frankly, intolerable.”

The letter called for assurances from Victoria the possible four-lane long-term solution of the existing highway through the centre of the community is “off the table” because “our community is traumatized by the prospect of a possible 4-lane highway being driven through the centre of Peachland.”

In conclusion, the letter went on to say: “The idea that full capacity will not be achieved for another 20 years may be statistically demonstrated, but seems horribly mistaken from an on the ground perspective.”

READ MORE: Peachland highway upgrade faces 20-year delay

READ MORE: Council disappointed with bypass decision

Fortin said she was incensed about the letter for several reasons. She felt a special council meeting last week wasn’t appropriate to deal with the issue.

She also questioned what impact it would have with the ministry at this point, with more emphasis now better placed on potential short- and medium-term traffic intersection solutions that ministry officials have suggested to council, most notably being the Trepanier Road access and egress.

“We have been flogging this horse forever….I suggest we move forward by focusing on what we can do rather than continually spinning our wheels to nowhere,” Fortin said. Fielding argued the letter would send an immediate response to the ministry which he felt was important.

“If we don’t, I believe is will send a signal of indifference and acceptance, and not of shock and disbelief and extreme frustration with an unacceptable decision,” he said.

Fortin questioned that logic given that the ministry’s decision had been made months before and the presentation at the Aug. 11 council meeting was ministry staff following proper protocols to announce it.

She also stated that no plans exist at present to four-lane the existing Highway 97 rather than build a bypass at this time, a choice Fielding acknowledged was choosing “between the lesser of two evils.”

However, Fielding noted it has been the position of the current council and the two councils proceeding them to support the long-term bypass alternative option.

“Our approach up to now isn’t working,” responded Fortin. “We need to put on our big boy and big girl pants and take a different approach to this which is why I am steamed about this letter.”

Coun. Mike Kent said the letter stands on its own and should in no way disrupt any short- or-medium-term highway upgrade plans in the works.

“We went through this big process and the primary reason we went through with the Peachland transportation study and messaging all along was to explore and identify a preferred (long-term) alternate route,” said Kent.

“And the lack of a conclusion to the that process left us with holding an empty bag. No decision was made.

“At best it was an information gathering exercise with no resolution, which keeps Peachland in the dark for the foreseeable future.”

Coun. Patrick Van Minsel defended Fortin’s position, saying there is no urgency to send the letter now, and more discussion within the community about a long-term solution were still warranted.

“We have been waiting for 25 years so to me a few more days doesn’t really matter,” Van Minsel said.

In the end, council voted to forward the letter to the Trevena, over the lone objections of Fortin and Van Minsel.

City of West Kelowna

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

QUIZ: Do you know what’s on TV?

Fall is normally the time when new television shows are released

COVID-19 outbreak declared at Calvary Chapel Kelowna

Attendees of the Sept. 13 morning church service may have been exposed, Interior Health says

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

Kelowna man injured during arrest sues RCMP

Supreme Court civil claim alleges Dustin Blondin was the victim of an ‘unprovoked attack’

United Way celebrates seven decades of impact in Southern Interior

Organization sees issues with poverty, mental health and addictions, heighten during the pandemic

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

End of CERB means uncertainty for some, new system for others

As of a week ago, the CERB had paid out $79.3 billion to 8.8 million people

West Kelowna Warriors complete sweep of Vernon Vipers

Warriors edge Snakes 2-1 as Okanagan Cup BCHL exhibition tournament begins

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Horgan, Wilkinson trade barbs over MSP premiums, health care at campaign stops

Horgan called a snap election for Oct. 24 earlier this week

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Public input sharpens vision of Oyama Ithmus Park

Proposed project to shape the long-term future of waterfront land in Lake Country

PHOTOS: Ghost sighting in Vernon’s Polson Park

Mom and daughter photoshoot brings joy and laughter to bystanders

Most Read