Residents petition against proposed West Kelowna bypass
Over 5,000 people have signed an online petition opposing a proposed bypass in West Kelowna.
It's one of several ideas the Ministry of Transportation recently proposed as part of a study to improve traffic flow in the area, which included options for a second Okanagan Lake crossing. The alternate bypass would be north of Shannon Lake Road, with various options on where it would begin and end.
“People are not just opposed to it, they’re outraged over it,” says Kristian Fraser, who started the petition “it’s just something that I know all the residents use every day, walk our dogs over there, kids playing.”
Fraser, who lives near Rose Valley Lake, says the bypass would be costly, noisy, impede on vital trails and wildlife, and devalue homes in the area.
“You work your whole life to build your personal wealth and, you know, home is a big part of that,” he says “so you’re going to all of a sudden just slam this highway through these neighborhoods causing all these issues but also just, it’s cruel to do that to people, to actually take that out of their pockets essentially.”
Many comments on the petition echo Fraser’s concerns.
“Renovate the existing corridor, do not destroy the north end and Rose Valley with this extra bridge/bypass.” writes one person.
“I use the Rose valley park daily walking with my dog and using the bike trails. This park is the reason I chose to live here. Parks are becoming too few and far between as it is, and need to be protected and preserved” says another.
Fraser says he’s also concerned about further geological instability in the area and impacts a bypass would have on the new Rose Valley Water Treatment Plant.
While no decision has been made yet, Fraser says the alternate bypass shouldn't even be a consideration.
“I think there are just so many negatives to this plan that it should have been taken off the list long ago” he says.
Other proposals the Ministry presented include making changes to Highway 97 itself, by building grade-separated interchanges or elevated express lanes. One option would see the highway near Town Centre turned into a trenched road.
The Ministry of Transportation has said proposed options would be eliminated using public feedback before making final recommendations within the next year.