The single most important decision affecting the future of Peachland is about to be made: will Highway 97 be four-laned through Peachland or will one of two alternate routes will be selected?
Since 2015 the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) has been studying the future traffic demands of the Central Okanagan.
In its final report, MOTI states they are studying ways to accommodate increasing traffic volumes that have resulted from the strong economic and population growth in the Central Okanagan.
“Key findings of the assessment suggest that the Highway 97 corridor through Peachland will approach capacity for a two-lane highway by 2040, will experience decreasing levels of service based on an anticipated reduction in average speeds during the afternoon peak period, and access to the highway will become more problematic at the unsignalized intersections,” the report states.
By fall MOTI will decide whether to four-lane the existing route or construct one of the two alternate routes.
Now is the time to get informed and make your voice heard. Attend the Highway 97 Task Force Society’s Information Open House at the Community Centre between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 11. There, you can learn about the three proposed options, ask questions, examine large scale maps, and determine how each of the options affects you, and how they affect Peachland as a whole.
The MOTI final report can be found online (search Peachland Transportation Study: Phase 1 Final Report). It explains the process to date and some of the methodology used. It also contains more technical information than most of us can absorb, but at the end of the report are appendixes with the maps of the three proposed routes.
At the open house you will have access to more detail and more information allowing you to determine how the options affect you and the future of Peachland. Each one has advantages and disadvantages and each raises important questions: How will the enjoyment of my home or my business be affected? What opportunities for, and impediments to, growth, development and commerce are created? What are the environmental impacts of each option and how are negative impacts mitigated? What improvements to Highway 97 are needed now, regardless of future route options?
If a bypass is chosen:
If an alternate route is selected, what opportunities are created if the existing Highway 97 route becomes a traffic-calmed municipal road? Is 97 still a highway or an extended Beach Avenue? Can we use the lakeshore from Princeton to Antlers? Add a multi-use pathway? Will the speed limits be reduced? If so, who gets to choose, MOTI or District of Peachland? How much traffic would still be there? Will your businesses be affected? How many would be affected? Positive or negative? How will it affect you and the enjoyment of your home? Will getting from A to B within Peachland be easier? How much impact will there be on residents? Will it help or hurt the possibility of a golf course?
Will easy highway access to the industrial area encourage business? Would a convenience store and a gas station at the junction be a possibility? Will truck traffic down Princeton be reduced? Car traffic increased? Would it change your route to Kelowna?
How will the neighbourhood be divided? Will your foot paths be affected? Would highway access be provided? Do you see a positive in this route? Is there a benefit to Peachland? Is there development potential?
If four-lane in place is chosen?
How long will four-lane through Peachland construction take, and what are the impacts? If a four-lane through Peachland option is chosen, how does that affect our collective quality of life? What is the benefit for Peachland? How long would construction take? Dust? Noise? Where does the traffic go during construction? How will four lanes at 80km affect you and the enjoyment of your home? How will five signal lights manage summer traffic volumes? Will getting from A to B within Peachland be easier? How do we use the lakeshore from Princeton to Antlers? Do you live at Antlers Beach? Will highway access be easier?
These, and doubtless many more questions will be asked and opinions aired. The open house is the place to do that and we will be there to help you let your opinion be known to MOTI and your elected representatives. We look forward to seeing you.
The Highway 97 Task Force Information Open House will take place Wednesday, Sept. 11 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Community Centre.
By Highway 97 Task Force Society