Westside residents don’t want a highway through their forests

Westside residents don’t want a highway through their forests

Response from Ministry of Transportation survey is frosty

Westside residents engaging in an online forum set up by the Ministry of Transportation don’t appear to want a bypass around their city.

Of 38 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, responses are nearly unanimously against a bypass.

“Please do not build a new highway/roadway and ‘connector’ through the forested land and residential neighbourhoods of Smith Creek, Tallus Ridge, Shannon Woods and Rose Valley,” reads a comment from one poster.

“It seems like a complete disregard for the beautiful wilderness that we know and love as well as the residential neighbourhoods throughout. We have an existing highway that does not function well due to the traffic lights.”

This person recommended removal of traffic lights and installation of more overpasses.

RELATED: OKANAGAN LAKE CROSSING OPTIONS

“The overpass at Westside Road has greatly eased congestion in that area. It makes sense that if all the lights were removed from the highway it would function more efficiently and ease congestion.”

Another pointed out that nearly every option impacts all outdoor recreation in West Kelowna.

“As a land owner in West Kelowna and Peachland I am concerned with my ability to access out door recreation in the area —why I live in the area,” they wrote.

“Why doesn’t the province consider going around (the) last mountain from the connector avoiding all established trail networks in the area?”

Another said that the bypass would be cause to move from the area.

“I think improving the interchanges along Highway 97 as are proposed (overpasses/trenched lanes) will significantly ease congestion. If needed potentially having an option … through already ugly commercial land, rather than beautiful park and residential land, makes way more sense to me. Please do not ruin my backyard.”

There were around 17 responses in the section on how Kelowna would be affected, and one in Lake Country.

Of those responses plans for a second lake crossing didn’t gain much traction.

“(The Ministry of Transportation) seems to be coming up with 1950s solutions to fix a 2017 issue,” one said.

“I would say it’s debatable if there is even an issue. Can’t we explore tolling the current bridge? How about rapid transit options?”

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

As such, they’ve been travelling through the area and holding open houses where options are being discussed.

The study is looking at needs of the travelling public, community land use plans, provincial transportation priorities and a possible future second crossing of Okanagan Lake. Related to this is the The Highway 97 – Peachland Transportation Study which is under way to identify and assess possible short, medium, and long-term solutions to address future needs through and/or around Peachland.

Area residents are asked to sumbit their feedback electronically by completing one of three feedback forms for Lake Country, West Kelowna and Kelowna by May 31, 2017 at 4pm.

Participate in other ways like email, telephone, stakeholder meetings, presentations or dialogue sessions.

Join the online discussion through this link.

Ministry of Transportation