The current status of Highway 97 running through the heart of Peachland is not expected to change for at least another 20 years, according to provincial ministry of transportation and infrastructure officials. (Contributed)

The current status of Highway 97 running through the heart of Peachland is not expected to change for at least another 20 years, according to provincial ministry of transportation and infrastructure officials. (Contributed)

Peachland bypass delay called ‘disappointing’

Transportation ministry says long-term solution set aside for another 20 years

The traffic safety and community planning impact of Highway 97 in Peachland will continue to be a constant point of debate, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, says the president of the Highway 97 Task Force Society.

Gus Richardson said his reaction was one of disappointment when regional Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure officials revealed to Peachland council last week the decision to delay further planning on a long-term solution to the Highway 97 upgrade options for 20 years.

“This issue has been worked on going back to the 1980s and we still don’t have some kind of plan move forward,” Richardson said.

“On the other hand, we weren’t happy with the long-term options suggested by the ministry so it’s not without some degree of relief we have another 20 years to hopefully make our influence be heard.”

Richardson said the society believes a majority of Peachlanders want a bypass route alternative pursued, so the idea of four-lane improvements to the existing Highway 97 route through the heart of the community as a suggested option was not well received.

“We feel (the bypass) is the best thing for Peachland from our community’s perspective. Other communities that have had bypasses done have flourished, and we would hope the same for our community. It would help make Peachland more of a destination point rather than a place people drive past on their way to somewhere else.”

READ MORE: Highway 97 upgrade option for Peachland faces 20-year delay

Ted Cave, who for a time was involved with the task force, said most residents realize a long-term solution would be costly and take potentially years to assemble, but what he was hoping for from the ministry was a decision on that route option.

“It’s a planning thing. Nobody knows what to expect. If you are planning a housing project near the current highway, and how many other development options, you are hesitant to go forward-thinking in 20 years there might be four-lane highway traffic roaring past a given project,” Cave said.

Cave called the ongoing studies and community surveys a “colossal waste of money” since they haven’t arrived at any conclusions.

“We have spent several million dollars over the years to get back to the same point we started with,” he said.

Cave said he has learned a lot from talking with highways engineers and staff about Highway 97 upgrade options and understanding traffic flows.

“But I am less appreciative of how the public relations side of this has been handled over the years,” he added.

The ministry is currently in the midst of unveiling a major online public communication initiative to generate feedback on Highway 97 suggested short- and long-term options.

READ MORE: Nakusp and Westbank First Nation groups meet to discuss regional partnerships

A public engagement website was launched Aug. 12 and will continue until Sept. 4.

Because of COVID-19 public health issues, the ministry is unable to hold public forums on the Peachland Transportation Study. Comments or more information can be obtained from the study project team by emailing

The presentation to Peachland council last Tuesday (Aug. 11) was greeted with disappointment by Mayor Cindy Fortin and the councillors.

Fortin called the decision “a tough one to swallow” given the work already done in the planning process combined with the importance of upgrading the Highway 97 corridor to Peachland’s future economic development.

Steve Sirett, regional highways manager, told council the long-term solution delay was based on current traffic volumes along with several short- and medium-term intersection improvements to improve the safety of highway intersections in Peachland.

He noted in particular approval for the design process to proceed for upgrading the Trepanier Bench Road intersection, which will lead to a likely project cost estimate within about a year, to be followed by seeking provincial funding.

“Trepanier Road is a priority…we heard that loud and clear. Approval for the design process to make that project tender-ready will lead to another step of getting funding approval, but it is a good step forward,” Sirett said.

But councillors were unhappy about what they feel are short-term fixes to traffic congestion and safety problem posed by Highway 97 traffic through the district that requires a longer-term alternative.

“I am very disappointed to hear we are not coming out of this with a definitive (long-term) recommendation,” said Coun. Keith Fielding. “It paralyzes our capacity as a community to plan ahead going forward.”

Coun. Mike Kent said the decision will have a profound negative impact on Peachland’s ability to plan future economic development.

“As a council member, I feel that deferring this decision another 20 years is not acceptable,” Kent said.

“We will be hamstrung when it comes to development…I think the importance of this is not being communicated effectively to those in the decision-making process.”

Sirett said planning decisions can proceed based on the current status of the highway, as many changes could impact what is required for Highway 97 upgrades 20 years from now.

“It is a challenge and I appreciate that, but our decision is based on traffic volume elements, and what issues we are looking at 20 years from now may be different than what we think about now,” he added.

“Part of that is how the community redevelops over those next 20 years. It could be we have to look at this a lot sooner than 20 years depending on how the community changes and grows.”

READ MORE: Two people dead after Highway 1 collision west of Kamloops

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)
30 new COVID-19 cases, five more deaths in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases to 7,271 since testing began

West Kelowna City Hall on Cameron Road. (File photo)
Rose Valley water treatment facility to cost less than planned

The contract of $45.1 million was awarded to developer Maple Reinders Constructors Ltd .

A $3,000 donation from the Gary Bennett Family Fund will go towards baby products for families in need. (Central Okanagan Food Bank)
Okanagan charity donates $3,000 to support young families

The Gary Bennett Family Fund donated to Central Okanagan Food Bank

Project rendering of Hadgraft Wilson Place (CNW Group/Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation)
68-unit affordable housing complex coming downtown Kelowna

The six-storey complex located on Fuller Ave is set to be completed by fall 2022

Accelerate Okanagan has announced the six finalists for the 2021 OKGN Angel Summit. The remaining entrepreneurs will compete for a chance to receive a $145,000 investment in their business. (Eryca Stirling photo)
Finalists named for Okanagan entrepreneur summit

Accelerate Okanagan has named the final six competing entrepreneurs in the OKGN Angel Summit

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

Students from Summerland’s Okanagan College often posed for photographs on the Big Rock. The rock was on the northern slope of Giant’s Head Mountain. (Photo courtesy of the Summerland Museum)
Summerland’s Big Rock had been desposited during last ice age

Rock was once a prominent feature on Giant’s Head Mountain

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

Ranchero Deep Creek firefighters respond to a blaze involving two adjacent structures at a property off of Deep Creek Road on Sunday, Feb. 21. The buildings were believed to have been used as part of a cannabis growing operation, and RCMP are investigating. (Sean Coubrough/CSRD photo)
Ranchero Deep Creek firefighters respond to a blaze involving two adjacent structures at a property off of Deep Creek Road on Sunday, Feb. 21. The buildings were believed to have been used as part of a cannabis growing operation, and RCMP are investigating. (Sean Coubrough/CSRD photo)
Shuswap firefighters responding to structure blaze find cannabis grow operation

RCMP investigating, attempting to track down owner of property

Interior Health officially declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Creekside Landing in Vernon on Jan. 3, which was followed by the first death from the virus 10 days later. (Kaigo photo)
COVID outbreak over at Vernon care home

Creekside Landing cleared of coronavirus, despite additional death in last day

Most Read