Westside Road residents concerned about potential future gravel pit traffic

Residents suggest recent upgrades to Westside Road are related to a proposed gravel pit, but MLA Ben Stewart denies that theory.

Last week, Westside-Kelowna MLA Ben Stewart announced Westside Road will become safer after the province spends $4.5 million to realign, widen and install barriers along two sections of the dangerous path.

But members of the North Westside Ratepayers Association who travel the road often weren’t bringing out streamers and confetti.

“It sounds like a lot of money, but it’s just fractional when you consider the cost of the upgrades that need to be done—particularly in the very bad, narrow, windy areas where there are rock faces and decaying roadside,” said Diane Baldwin, president of the North Westside Ratepayers Association.

During last week’s announcement, members of the public told Stewart they suspected the improvements were likely related to the Westcan Gravel Pit application.

But Stewart was quick to deny that theory.

“There’s a connection some people have in their mind that the gravel application has some reason for road improvements—it has nothing to do with it,” said Stewart.

“They are totally unrelated, other than when I got involved in the application, I said there did need to be safety improvements and I felt they should contribute. We don’t even have a deal yet, so at this point, we’re funding this out of regular tax revenue.”

Stewart said the recent announcement of improvements will make “two of the worst corners” on Westside Road better.

“The province, over the last two years, has committed and found almost $8 million for road and safety improvements on Westside Road.”

One of the top concerns for Baldwin and other residents is the potential impact of putting more large gravel trucks on a road that is already considered too narrow for smaller vehicles in some stretches.

Baldwin said one resident at last week’s meeting told a “horror story” about having to stop and reverse on Westside Road because a large vehicle carrying equipment was in his lane.

She noted several others at the meeting had similar experiences.

Stewart pointed out any incidents with large vehicles up until this point has nothing to do with the proposed gravel pit.

“There is no increased gravel truck activity at this time because there is no approved gravel pit,” said Stewart.

“Any gravel trucks they meet today out there are basically trucks using the road as it was intended.”

Stewart added regulations for hours of operation would be put in place for Westcan Gravel Pit trucks pending approval of a mining permit.

wpaterson@kelownacapnews.com

 

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