(from left) West Kelowna Council, Jayson Zilkie, Gord Milsom, Jason Friesen, Carol Zanon, Stephen Johnston and Rick de Jong photo: contributed

West Kelowna Council looks to create more interchanges along Highway 97

Council has directed staff to reach out to Ministry of Transportation

There is a possibility of more interchanges along Highway 97 on the horizon for West Kelowna.

City Council put forward a motion on Tuesday, (Nov. 27) to meet with the provincial government once again to construct interchange upgrades at the intersections of Boucherie Road and Highway 97 and Hudson/Westlake Roads and Highway 97.

“This has been an issue that I have been strongly supportive of since the last council’s tenure and I am hoping that this council will agree to it,” said Coun. Rick de Jong.

When originally brought to council in April 2017, the members were concerned that the interchanges would turn the highway into a freeway, making the city less attractive because of it.

There are thousands of commuters that cross the William R. Bennet bridge every day.

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The Ministry of Transportation held an online forum in 2017 where Westside residents who took part were against another bypass through the city. Responses to a BC government webpage set up to collect public opinion on the existing or alternate corridor options being explored for West Kelowna and Westbank First Nation are nearly unanimously against a bypass.

Last year the ministry, said its planning shows that by 2040 the existing W.R. Bennett Bridge will reach capacity, traffic lights along the route will have long wait times and a trip between Peachland and Lake Country will take nearly 30 minutes longer than it does now.

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Now the council is faced with trying to find solutions to reduce congestion on Highway 97.

“I think this is an absolutely great idea,” said Coun. Jayson Zilkie, who commutes to Kelowna every day for work.

“Whatever we can do to reduce congestion on Highway 97, I am all for it I also think interchanges would make a safer passage for commuters,” said West Kelowna Mayor, Gordon Milsom.

Milsom said that the ministry has reached out again and requested to meet with council in the new year.

Council directed West Kelowna staff to immediately reach out to the provincial government for an update and for further engagement with the province on these two interchange upgrades.

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