Westside-Kelowna NDP candidate Carole Gordon says it’s time there was a plan for improving traffic and roads in the riding on both sides of the lake, and she is calling on her Liberal opponent in the upcoming byelection, B.C. Premier Christy Clark, to commit to such a plan.
“For year’s Christy Clark’s government has ignored traffic problems and bad roads that people here face on daily basis,” said Gordon. “Westside Road was just named the worst road in B.C. for the second year in a row, traffic is backed up every day to get across the bridge and nothing has been done to address concerns about the couplet in Westbank,” said Gordon Thursday.
She said she has been hearing complaints from residents of the riding about the condition of roads here since she first ran for the NDP prior to the last provincial election May 14. Gordon was one of the first NDP candidates nominated and started to campaign last year.
“Like everyone else, I’ve driven these roads for years and am tired of being stuck in traffic,” said Gordon, who is an elementary school teacher who lives in Kelowna and, at one time, taught in Peachland.
“Christy Clark has never lived here and her government has ignored these problems. She is out of touch with our community and ordinary British Columbians. This by-election, voters have a chance to elect an MLA who lives here and who won’t take their issues for granted.”
While the Liberal government of Clark’s predecessor, former-premier Gordon Campbell, built the five-lane W.R. Bennett Bridge to replace the former three-lane Okanagan Lake Floating Bridge and has made improvements to Westside Road in recent years, Gordon said that is not enough.
While she acknowledged the bridge has helped, she said problems on the highway both sides are now leading to traffic jams on the bridge during morning and afternoon rush hours. She pointed to bottlenecks at Highway 97 and Boucherie Road on the Westside and at Abbott Street and Highway 97 on the Kelonwa side.
She said with all the money being invested in the downtown area of Kelowna, traffic movement on the highway and across the bridge is critical.
She also noted that West Kelonwa council recently dropped its plan to deal with the couplet through Westbank and said that was because the province was, in her words, “not wiling to come to the table.”
Another transportation issue that needs to be addressed is a second crossing of the lake, said Gordon. Work should start now on identifying a crossing point and corridors to that point on both sides of the lake, she added.
Gordon said she plans to raise the issue of roads and traffic here with Clark when the two square off, along with the six other byelection candidates, in a debate July 4.
The Westside-Kelowna byelection will be held July 10.