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Vernon BC Western Corridor Bypass

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From the Armstrong Advertiser June 23, 2010

50 Years Ago, 1960

Rumours of a new highway being built from Kelowna on the west side of Okanagan Lake to tie in the Roger's Pass prompted a special meeting of Spallumcheen council to discuss routing a continuation of such a highway through the municipality.

50 years ago - Rumours of a new highway being built from Kelowna on the west side of Okanagan Lake
click to read larger print

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Highway Bypass Not In Plan - 10/14/2016 - by Pete McIntyre

Bob Spiers, Vernon city councillor

A Vernon councillor isn't giving up on his demands to have a highway bypass in the long term vision for the city.

Bob Spiers voted against official community plan changes at council's meeting Tuesday, upset the highway doesn't get mentioned in the master transportation plan.

He hopes residents agree with him when a public hearing is held on the OCP later this year.

"Hopefully enough people will come out, and maybe we can convince the powers that be and the rest of council, to put in a bypass (into the plan)."

Spiers says the city's advisory planning committee agrees a bypass should be in the plan.

"We both thought we should have better bypass language. We should at least put a bypass route in there," adds Spiers.

Councillor Scott Anderson also voted against the OCP changes concerned about the parks plan making part of Marshall Field on-leash only for dogs.

"It is a difficult decision, but it's one that I stand on because I feel very strongly that I am representing a great number of people who use that consistently as a dog run, and I'm speaking for them," Anderson told Kiss FM.

Councillor Catherine Lord also had concerns about the master parks plan outlining the Civic Arena site to become a park, which she feels has not been decided, and the building may be kept in tact for future uses.

"We were talking about getting public consultation on this issue," said Lord
Councillor Juliette Cunningham pointed out the master plans can be changed over time, adding it's basically a blueprint, and doesn't force council to do anything specific.


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West Kelowna’s new transportation plan needs more work
Kelowna Capital News - By Jason Luciw - June 25, 2010

Council wrestles with its transportation plan

Imagine the public outcry. West Kelowna’s master transportation plan included a proposed bypass road on the hills above the community, which would make the cut on the Coquihalla Connector look tame.

The transportation plan, which received a mostly cool reception at Tuesday night’s council meeting (see story page C9), showed a four-lane arterial road or highway that appeared to scar the hillsides near Smith Creek, Tallus Ridge and Shannon Woods before it dissected Rose Valley Regional Park en route to a second four-lane crossing of Okanagan Lake.

Perhaps such a bypass would have worked 10 or 20 years ago before development went gangbusters in West Kelowna’s neighbourhoods, but there’s no way it would work today.

Fortunately, the plan more appropriately recommended an alternative, which actually seems doable––the creation of a road connecting Rose Valley and Shannon Lake.

If done properly, such a road would provide an excellent pedestrian, transit and cycling link between the two neighbourhoods. With a future school and sports fields proposed for Rose Valley, and perhaps small retail centres added to both neighbourhoods, such a road would serve as an excellent means of taking some of the pressure off Highway 97.

The road could include traffic-calming measures like landscaped curb extensions, pedestrian crossing signals and the odd speed bump to ensure the corridor offers a more laid back traffic option, versus creating another speedway. Pedestrian paths and bike lanes could be set back from the roadside with landscaped buffers, including xeriscaping and solar-powered lighting.

The concept would be similar to what’s being done currently on Beach Avenue in Peachland and on Gellatly Road between Powers Creek Bridge and the Cove Resort.

The same concept could be repeated on Boucherie Road from Hudson or Stuart Road to Gellatly Road and again along the section of the Gellatly Road loop from the Westbank Centre to Whitworth Road.

Of course, even with grants and some development cost charges thrown in, the price of such improvements would be astronomical and it would probably take the new municipality 20 or 30 years to build enough cash reserves for the projects.

But once they were properly constructed, you can bet Boucherie Road and the Rose Valley/Shannon Lake connector would become hillside transportation corridors that would rival their waterfront equals.

As for Highway 97, the recommendations include high-occupancy vehicle lanes on the Westside to accommodate bus rapid transit. With a proposal in B.C. Transit’s 2035 service plan for 10-minute intervals between buses, you can bet HOV lanes on the Westside would come in handy, love them or hate them. Proposed transit exchanges at Elk Road, Westside Road and the Westbank and Boucherie Centres are also good ideas included in the plan.

In addition, the master transportation plan should include more left-hand turn signals and longer turning lanes along Highway 97 and the completion of connections from Nancee Way to Stevens Road and Stevens to Auburn Road on the south side of the highway, to take more traffic off Highway 97, which is the road that counts the most on the Westside.

The plan also can’t ignore the fact that improvements being constructed now on Westbank First Nation land to accommodate the Westside Road interchange will need to be repeated in some fashion in West Kelowna within the next five years for an interchange at Boucherie Road.

An interchange for the deadly Highway 97 and Hudson/Westlake Road intersection should also be considered.

Last but not least, the plan does propose an essential second access out of Glenrosa, going over Powers Creek to the Smith Creek subdivision and eventually out onto Shannon Lake Road.

Still, council felt the recommendations weren’t quite where it wanted them to be and the consultant working on the master transportation plan has been asked to come back with revisions. Let’s hope the plan, when done, puts West Kelowna on the right path for road improvements at a price we can all afford.

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Vernon's Agenda April 2008 page 78

Staff Responses:

The Westside of Okanagan Lake concept is not considered economically viable by the MOT and is not considered a realistic alternative in the review of long term transportation options. Refer to the attached MOT correspondence on this matter (J.R. email dated Sept. 1/07 and Apr. 15/08).

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Mayors put Okanagan highway projects on province’s radar
Kelowna Capital News - By Jason Luciw - January 19, 2010

Local mayors want three major highways projects tacked on to the B.C. Ministry of Transportation’s to-do list, including a second crossing of Okanagan Lake.

However, politicians clearly have a lot more lobbying to do before any work is done, based on the ministry’s feedback.

Okanagan MLAs, mayors, municipal staff and chambers of commerce representatives met with ministry officials over the weekend to hear a review of valley transportation projects completed over the past few years and to receive an update on projects currently underway.

The presentation was short on details about what future projects were in store for the Okanagan’s highways, however, according to West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater, “They didn’t really look forward to any great extent or lay out their cards on a pile of new projects.”

Since ministry staff was unwilling to talk about future improvements, Findlater said he figured he’d better chime in with West Kelowna’s proposal for the one-way Highway 97 couplet through Westbank.

“I felt I should seize an opportunity like this to at least speak up so it gets noticed,” said Findlater.

Council has talked informally about the possibility of turning the southbound one-way corridor, also known as Main Street, into a local two-way street.

The northbound one-way stretch, also known as Dobbin Road, would then become a four-lane or six-lane, two-way section of Highway 97.

Unfortunately ministry officials made no comments about the proposal, mentioned Findlater.

“They didn’t react, other than to note it.”

Another proposal that surfaced was a high elevation Highway 97 bypass around Peachland that would direct traffic from the Okanagan Connector to an area near Antler’s Beach on the other side of town.

Peachland Mayor Keith Fielding said the ministry seemed receptive to the plan.

“The ministry confirmed that both a four (lane widening) through Peachland and the highland bypasses were options that they would be considering,” said Fielding.

The ministry would give no project timelines nor would officials indicate how high a priority it was; but, given the B.C. government’s current fiscal restraints, Fielding said he was pleased the proposal was still on the province’s radar.

Kelowna Mayor Sharon Shepherd also took the opportunity to bring up a second crossing of Okanagan Lake once more, even though the transportation ministry has been reluctant to entertain the idea since the Bennett Bridge was completed in May 2008.

“The ministry was saying to us, we’re not going to need a second crossing for way beyond 20 years,” said Shepherd.

“I didn’t hear that when the (Bennett) bridge opened up. I heard that we’d be looking a lot sooner than 20 years if the projections are correct about where the growth is occurring.”

Shepherd wanted the ministry to at least entertain securing land for a route so the city could start aligning its streets and making acquisitions accordingly.

However, the ministry’s reluctance to buy up land wasn’t surprising, she stated.

“They’ve just invested a whole lot of money in Highway 97 and they’re investing in Highway 33. So, I appreciate all that investment. But, I also like to think that we can plan further out.”

Findlater said he was disappointed with the ministry’s response concerning another lake crossing.

“At the rate the Central Okanagan is growing they need to put that (second crossing) on their 10- to 20-year horizon, even if it’s just something like a transit bridge. We’re going to be back to the same congestion on (Bennett) bridge again in 15 to 20 years.”

Shepherd said she hoped the ministry at least got the message that Okanagan municipalities want to get together to look at a variety of transportation options.

“If the ministry truly believes that we should be looking at alternatives to bypasses (and) to adding alternate highways to many of our communities then maybe we have to start to consider a rapid light rail plan.”

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May 26, 2008 Vernon City Council Meeting
Present the final draft transportation plan to Vernon City Council

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Open houses were held Feb 15, 2008 at Okanagan Landing Elementary from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.; the Halina Centre Saturday Feb 16, 2008 from 1 to 5 p.m.; and at the Vernon Recreation Complex Feb. 18 to Feb. 29 from 3 to 6 p.m.

The city will hold a public input session at city hall March 25, 2008 at 5:30 p.m. It will be attended by members of council.

Bypass Survey - City of Vernon
(survey available February 11 - 29 2008)

Next Steps

  • Complete public consultation from February 11 - 29, 2008.

  • Present the results of the public consultation to Council on March 10, 2008.

  • Prepare the final Transportation Plan for incorporation into the OCP.

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Western Corridor Impact Assessment Committee - (website not working)

1st letter to the City of Vernon

2nd letter to the City of Vernon

Public Concerns (3 pages)

Letter from the Ministry of Transportation

PDF icon Overview of the only public meeting

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Vernon Blog Spot on Westside Road being used as Vernon's bypass.

The last time we looked the poll suggested Westside Road as the corridor.

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Get Involved, Demand a Bypass Now!

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Vernon’s new OCP nears completion
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - Published: September 25, 2008

Vernon’s new official community plan is almost a done deal.

Council gave third reading to the revised 2008 OCP package Monday and it’s anticipated that the document will be adopted Oct. 14.

“It’s not perfect but it’s a good document,” said Coun. Juliette Cunningham, adding that it tackles matters such as hillside development and pressing social issues.

The OCP will govern land use decisions for the community, and the content within it was a result of extensive work by city staff and consultants, as well as numerous public consultations over the last two years.

“I’ve never seen the amount of input,” said Cunningham.

“There will always be those who see themselves as winners and losers in the process but there is so much substance in this document.”

Cunningham has been pushing to have the proposed OCP finalized before November’s civic election.

“If we don’t adopt it before Nov. 15, all that hard work could go out the window. Single-issue candidates could derail it,” she said.

Lone opposition to the OCP proceeding came from Coun. Barry Beardsell, who is concerned the document doesn’t include preservation of a western bypass corridor.

“I can hold up my head in the future and say, ‘I was not responsible for terrible congestion,’” he said.

Beardsell also believes the OCP does not refer to parks enough, doesn’t provide a clear future for the airport and doesn’t encourage mobile home parks as a source of affordable housing.

In speaking to the media after Monday’s council meeting, Beardsell reiterated his objections to the OCP moving ahead.

“This is the worst council I’ve seen since I moved to Vernon and that was 1973,” he said.

A new aspect to the document is the city only considering OCP amendments and annexation applications once a year instead of the current process which can occur at any time.

“This way, you can consider the overall impact if they go forward,” said Kim Flick, planning and building services manager.

Flick added that the policy was developed in response to public concerns that the OCP is undermined by such amendments and annexation applications coming forward.

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Preserve the corridor
Vernon Morning Star - Letters - Published: September 12, 2008

I have been involved with architecture and planning since 1955, graduating from UBC in 1960 with the degree of bachelor of architecture. I consider myself to be a green person, having skied and been active in outdoor activities since the early 1940s.

I spent several years on council in the City of North Vancouver during the early 1970s. I’ve been chair of the Devonian Foundation Committee charged with the beautification of downtown Cranbrook in the late 1970s.

Since 1981, I’ve been a charter member with the Vernon Centennial Beautification Committee, Greater Vernon Garden City Society, Vernon GreenStreets Society, and the Ribbons of Green Trails Society.

I was a member of the Okanagan Landing, then the City of Vernon advisory planning commission, as chair most of that approximately 25 years time.

During that time, I’ve watched Kelowna choke itself with traffic due to a lack of foresight and courage to do the right thing as far as moving vehicular traffic through their city is concerned.

I’ve seen many planning mistakes made over the years and I think removing the proposed western bypass land accumulation feature from the OCP ranks up there with one of the largest.

As you well know, the debate surrounding this major traffic issue has been going on for many years. In that time, I have heard of not one solution which is obviously superior to the one proposed, and which will negatively affect the least number of people.

We are talking long-term planning, where the solution will become increasingly expensive and disruptive to many more people as time passes.

My suggestion is that the OCP be changed back to a policy of land accumulation over time as earlier proposed. The best that could happen with the land, should it, by some unforeseen stroke of technology, or whatever, would be that the land would end up being a magnificent linear park, in many ways akin to Stanley Park in Vancouver.

As land is accumulated, it could be planted with trees and xeriscape material such that development of the roadway will not damage the best parts of it.

Then, if the bypass is needed, it could become the western parkway with the walking and bike paths providing a popular and most interesting route through the city, but clear of downtown congestion.

I believe this solution would be a magnificent legacy for the future well-being of Vernon. Without it, the legacy will be one of failure to act at a turning point in the life of Vernon. Please reconsider.

Charles Wills

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Bypass needed article published in Vernon Morning Star Sept 19, 2008 - It is dangerous having trucks use hospital hill ...

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More people equate to more vehicles. (RDCO planning)

There are 104,000 registered vehicles now in the Central Okanagan and increased growth will produce more emissions that can result in deteriorated air quality.

A 1995 study by Levelton and Associates predicts that, by the year 2013, vehicles in the Central Okanagan will emit over 7,500 tonnes of fine particulates annually into the airshed from tire wear, brake linings, engine emissions and road dust. That works out to 20 tonnes daily.

Outdoor air pollutants, primarily fine particles and ozone, are causing health problems in our region. About 10% of the population is considered most "at risk". If conditions worsen, the entire population will be affected to some degree.

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A missed opportunity
July 4, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star - Letters

Parents do you decide the career choice of your new born baby? No.

Why not? Because you have no idea what your child will grow up to be like.

You have no idea what he or she will like or what things will influence them. So as parents it is your task to provide them with good surroundings, save up money, and give them a good education so that when the time comes they can make that decision for themselves.

Now let us think for a moment that the city of Vernon is like a growing child. We have no idea what it will be like in 25 years from now.

We can speculate that things will be more environmentally friendly based on how things are going today, but we don't know. In 25 years, a hybrid vehicle will be an old beater running around, and most cars will be 2015 models or newer.

Is it that hard to imagine that vehicular travel could be emissions-free in 25 years?

So why has council taken upon itself the decision not to build the western bypass? This was not your decision to make.

We should have preserved the land and let the future citizens of this city make that decision.

Shouldn't we simply promote greener growth strategies and show how we want the city to grow, but also provide the city with future options, so that when the time comes for the city to grow up it has choices?

Joel van der Molen

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July 04, 2008 Vernon Morning Star - Letters

At first I thought Richard Rolke was doing the "head in the sand" thing with his declaration that his personal stand on the city bypass issue was leaning toward "absolutely no bypass at all," but then it hit me that Richard has possibly shown us a way to think out of the box.

As long as we are working on a time-line of 25 to 30 years, an alternative is exactly as Richard leans toward: no bypass at all.

We've been thinking, obviously, that we have to take increasing traffic, the larger trucks and the dangerous cargoes, and the noise out of the city when, in fact, we should be thinking about taking the city itself away from that hazardous river of steel and rubber and pollution.

Do that and we could preserve the lands surrounding us, avoid heartbreak and contention and stress. Some anyway.

It would take a collective mind to see this through, but I believe that with an acceptance that great change has to occur, we could more easily shift the centre of our community to the north and east a few blocks and let the present traffic artery remain, with improvements, the direct route through our part of the valley that it is now.

It's not as crazy as it sounds initially.

I'm not talking about any major demolition. What I'm suggesting is that over the next 30 years the powers that be in this city begin and work out a zoning plan that will use attrition and opportunity to redesign our setting. It might take 50 years, maybe more.

Start with 32nd Street itself and allow only the type of services and buildings that are typical

along successful bypasses in other communities. As businesses close and land becomes available, the character of the avenue can be changed and other road approaches can be altered as the opportunity arises.

As for the downtown area hugging that avenue now, there is no need to turn away from it, but rather it could become a tremendous pedestrian mall.

To change the location of the core to the north and east (or wherever is chosen) the city needs only the determination: direct all new downtown-type businesses to the chosen area. Draft a plan. In my view, 27th Street is just aching to be Vernon's main drag as it is already where a lot of the focus is turning.

Other city's have "old town" and "new town" centres. True, the highway would divide the city into districts, but it already does and that clearer distinction might be a good thing.

Time and patience would be needed here, but such a move could some day make sense of an unfortunate town layout that is no longer suitable.

Nice thinking, Richard. I'm sure this is what you had at the tip of your tongue.

John J. Clarke

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One option ignored
July 01, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star - Letters

For as long as I can remember, politicians have talked and mulled, mulled and talked, and mulled some more about a mythical Vernon bypass and have not come to a solution. They agonize over the very real problems and expense of land expropriation, disruption of neighbourhoods during and after construction, as well the property devaluation that will be borne by home owners.

There is no doubt that a solution is necessary. How many tons of pollution pour out of our tailpipes as we sit at traffic lights waiting to scramble across 32nd Street. Then there are the tractor-trailers and RVs that do the same along that 32nd Street. What, are there five or six traffic lights along there?

My question is, has anyone thought of building an underpass? Perhaps the solution isn't in the horizontal but in the vertical. Other cities have done it with varying success. Surely some valuable lessons have been learned.

Consider through traffic entering an underpass commencing at the Fruit Union Plaza and rising back to street level possibly at 35th Avenue with overpasses across 32nd Street at 39th Avenue, 43rd Avenue and some sort of overpass/merge plan for 46th Avenue. No traffic lights and no left turns. This would give through traffic a clear path through our city while restoring that small town feeling that we enjoyed in the '50s and '60s. Hey, perhaps it may even rejuvenate the downtown core.

It would be nice if this had been considered but if it hasn't, then it should be. I would enjoy a summer not cursing and swearing at RVs from Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Dare to dream.

Brian Worth

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Bye-bye given to western bypass
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - June 11, 2008

Emotions ran high as Vernon’s proposed bypass was permanently shelved.

In a 3-2 vote, council scrapped plans for the western bypass and decided, instead, to tackle long-term traffic issues through aggressive transportation demand management, such as transit, walking and bicycling.

“The majority of people do not want the western bypass and I’m reflecting that,” said Coun. Patrick Nicol, who teamed up with Mayor Wayne Lippert and Coun. Pat Cochrane to vote against the staff-recommended bypass.

In favour of protecting land for a bypass were Councillors Barry Beardsell and Juliette Cunningham.

“Once you remove the protection, it (corridor) is gone forever,” said Beardsell.

“It leaves a viable option on the table. Don’t turn this city into a disaster like the City of Kelowna and its transportation.”

Cunningham pointed out that future generations, not current council, will have to deal with the fallout from Monday’s decision.

“Down the road, it (corridor protection) leaves options and that’s important,” she said.

However, Cochrane fired back, insisting that some parts of the bypass plan, such as a Scott Road extension, could still proceed, and future councils could still protect rights-of-way.

“We aren’t shutting off all of the options,” he said.

Lippert fears that setting a corridor aside could negatively impact residents living along the proposed route.

“I can’t support something that sterilizes someone’s land and devalues their property,” he said.

Under aggressive transportation demand management, a major financial investment would be required in transit and pedestrian paths as a way of getting people out of cars.

It could also include the elimination of all free parking in the city, and significant increases in parking fees.

“With TDM, congestion levels would be comparable to the west bypass option,” said Lorne Holowachuk, senior transportation engineer.

Beardsell, though, isn’t convinced that alternate transportation methods will be effective.

“If these assumptions are wrong and the land we want is gone, what do we do then?” he said.

Residents opposed to the western bypass welcome council’s decision.

“The public, and the majority of council, have now realized that the proposed western bypass, as presented by city staff, was seriously flawed,” said Jane Weixl, with the Western Corridor Impact Assessment Committee.

“I am very pleased that council is now focussing its attention on ensuring that Vernon residents have alternatives to using single occupancy vehicles. Transportation, as we know it, will change dramatically in the next 10 to 25 years and with this decision council has shown real vision. Council is being proactive in tackling transportation issues while preserving valuable agricultural land, valuable grasslands and green space.”

However, members of the Western Bypass Now Committee are questioning council’s actions.

“We want ecological transportation but we are concerned the decision will have an impact on the city,” said James Love, committee spokesman.

Love believes that the lack of a bypass will lead to increased congestion on 32nd and 27th streets and that will push vehicles on to side streets like Pleasant Valley Road.

“The traffic has to go somewhere. East Hill will be impacted significantly.”

Love is also concerned that high-level traffic on 32nd and 27th streets will also make it difficult to revitalize downtown and encourage people to live there.

Coun. Jack Gilroy was absent from Monday’s meeting, while Coun. Buffy Baumbrough declared a conflict of interest because her family’s farm could be impacted by a bypass.

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Tough, but open process
June 11, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star - Opinion

Vernon council has likely made its most difficult decision since being elected almost three years ago.

It was a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't situation as the city's elected officials debated the fate of the western bypass. In the end, a 3-2 vote led to the preservation of a long-term corridor being scrapped from the transportation plan.

And it was a challenging issue because of its complexity.

Obviously no one wants a major highway running through their neighbourhood, and residents of Mission Hill, Okanagan Landing and Bella Vista feared that by simply setting aside land for 40 or 50 years into the future, the bypass would become reality. There were also the potential negative impact on the environment, agriculture and downtown businesses.

But there is no question that as Vernon grows, the amount of traffic will increase. Congestion is already a problem on 32nd and 27th streets, and truck traffic on Hospital Hill poses a risk to motorists and pedestrians. The reason there isn't a good place for a bypass now is because officials from decades ago allowed growth to occur without expanding traffic routes.

Only time will tell if current mayor and council were visionary by moving away from a bypass and focusing on alternate modes of transportation, such as transit, or if their decision was politically expedient and resulted in more traffic gridlock.

But what current council deserves praise for is providing a process that allowed for considerable public input. Anyone who wanted to have their say, did.

And in the end, it was that open process, and the differing views that came with it, that created the challenge for council.

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It's the best option, period
June 04, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star - Letters

One must get a copy of the April 20, 2008 Morning Star and read the letters to the editor. Bob Herringer has hit the nail on the head regarding the Western Bypass.

Well done Bob. All this blathering that is going on is by people who either haven't attended an input session or if they did they were not listening.

One commentator was obviously out of the room when details of the Eastern route were described. The Eastern route is the most visible as it is almost entirely elevated. Being elevated it is also the noisiest option. It has no benefit to the city since the accesses are not usable by the local people. Did you miss the part that only 15 per cent of the traffic is through traffic? Shouldn't a highway addition be a benefit to the city as well? Why not let a major portion of that 85 per cent local traffic have an easy, faster way to get to the ends of town where the bigger malls are or out of town should they be heading that way? This would also make it easier for locals to get downtown and shop in the great stores there.

The Eastern route goes through productive ALR land for almost its entire length. Pollution?

Did you not hear that a vehicle travelling on the relatively easy grades of the Western bypass will be running at maximum efficiency and will be in the area for 12 minutes less than one idling through town? Do you really think a Highway 6 trucker will spend an extra 12 minutes fighting city traffic if he can bypass it?

Give your head a shake.

Another person said "build it and they will come." Well guess what - they are coming anyway so why not be prepared?

Someone said, "I don't know why we would want the traffic this bypass would create." Well the traffic is already there. The highway doesn't create it. Why not manage it in a sensible manner?

They also said: just think of the last time you drove to Vancouver. It is pretty tempting to bypass Merritt or Hope and just stop somewhere else for gas or lunch. Wrong! As a regular traveler on that route I always stop in Merritt or Hope or Kamloops where the existence of a bypass makes it easy and stressless to get off the highway. I would never stop in a place like Vernon or Kelowna where I had to fight traffic to get my lunch.

Some talk about a route down the west side of Okanagan Lake. It will never happen so forget that one.

The professional city planners have done a great job of researching the options and the Western route is the best option.

Finally, I live in the Landing and I would be looking at the bypass off my front deck. Sure it will have some effect on our place but it is still the best option for this city.

Stewart Wallach

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A mistake
June 1, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star - Letters

Vernon City Council will soon vote again on an ill-conceived scheme concocted by Sean Harvey and his yes-men in 2003, namely the Western Bypass. Despite opposition from practically everyone involved, city planners have been obsessive about forcing this on us.

This four-lane 80km highway will do little to eliminate congestion, will increase pollution, and is contrary to the stated guideline of the OCP, to protect ecosystems. This is a development corridor, pure and simple.

Employees and councils come and go, but this will be a permanent scar on one of the most beautiful landscapes on earth. A wise person once said “You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone?” Will our council be the one to pave paradise and put up a bypass? Maybe they will have the wisdom, patience and courage to prevent this costly mistake.

G. Hudson

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Highway plans stalled
By Tyler Olsen - Vernon Morning Star - May 30, 2008

The federal government is holding up the four-laning of a stretch of highway just south of the Spallumcheen Industrial Park.

The engineering and surveying work for the four-kilometre stretch of highway has been completed but while the provincial government, which will fund a portion of the project, is ready to go, the federal government has not released its share of funds.

An announcement on the project was planned for January. But, after Okanagan-Shuswap MP Colin Mayes had been told to be ready to make an announcement, the event was called off by the federal government.

“We were told there were just a few outstanding issues,” said Mayes from Ottawa. But while Mayes said he figured the situation would be resolved in a couple of weeks, there is still no word on the status of the project four months later.

The volume of projects being announced, and paperwork needing to be done on each, may be responsible for the delay, according to Mayes.

“They have literally hundreds of projects that they roll out,” he said. “I think it’s very, very, very probable that it’s going to happen but there seems to be a slowness in rolling it out.”

But with the 2008 construction season well underway, the mayors of the two most affected communities are getting impatient.

“As far as I’m concerned it’s been delayed far too long,” said Spallumcheen Mayor Will Hansma.

“I’ve been getting calls too. The contractors are anxious. They say it’s the perfect opportunity to start on the process,” he said.

“What are we waiting for here? We’ve got the province ready to roll, we’ve got the contractors chomping at the bit and we can’t get it off the ground.”

And Armstrong Mayor Jerry Oglow is also wondering why the project is not moving ahead.

“Both the provincial and federal (governments) have told me the administration process is complete on both sides.

“I was hoping it would be a spring start, to be honest. Now I’m just hoping it will be a 2008 start.”

Officials at the federal ministry of transportation and at Western Economic Diversification could not say why funding for the project has been delayed.

Plans for the project would see the four-lane section of highway built on the hillside above the current section. The project would eliminate the last significant stretch of two-lane highway between Armstrong and Vernon.

Blue Divider Line

Ottawa spells delay for plan
May 30, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star - Opinion

It’s enough to make one want to scream, in full Monty Python accent, “Get on with it!”

With the surveying and planning work complete, contractors ready to roll and the weather starting to co-operate, the federal government still hasn’t released their share of the funds needed to start construction on a new four-lane stretch of highway just south of the Spallumcheen Industrial Park.

The province has already pledged their share and, in January, MP Colin Mayes was asked to get ready to make an announcement on the highway, presumably for the federal share of the project’s funding.

But the announcement was cancelled and five months later, nobody knows what’s happening.

The federal government must be close to giving the funding go ahead on the project – they don’t schedule announcements when there’s a lot of work to be done and certainly not when there’s five months’ worth of work to be completed.

Any project moves at the speed of the slowest member, so there will always be grumbles that things could get done quicker. But this is bordering on the ridiculous. The feds, and the feds alone, have been holding up the project for more than eight months now.

And with little information from the federal government – Mayes even says he doesn’t know what is the hold up – one can only speculate as to the delay.

Has the project been cancelled, with officials hesitant to announce the lack of funds with an election on the perpetual horizon?

Or are there papers just sitting on a bureaucrat’s desk, waiting to be signed?

We don’t know and so yelling, hopefully loud enough to be heard in Ottawa, is all one can do.

Blue Divider Line

In search of a solution
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - May 28, 2008

Forget exhaust-spewing SUVs and industrial stacks pumping God only knows what into the atmosphere. A major cause of global warming Monday was the hot air at Vernon city hall.

Considerable debate over the transportation plan heated up chambers for much of the four-hour meeting. And things really started to smolder when Councillors Juliette Cunningham and Barry Beardsell took on each other.

“When I have colleagues on council who don’t believe in climate change, I have concerns,” said Cunningham, who wanted a commitment that everything possible would be done to cut down on traffic and the need for more roads.

“For people to say it’s not happening, they are in la la land.”

Cunningham never specifically identified Beardsell by name, but you know who she meant, especially after he joined the fray.

“This isn’t a debate about that goofy (Al) Gore. This is about a long-range plan,” he said of establishing potential transportation routes.

But the most ironic part of all of this is that Cunningham and Beardsell ultimately teamed up to support preserving a corridor for the controversial western bypass.

And that alone shows the entire complexity of climate change.

Global warming is a fact that we can’t ignore, and if our children and grandchildren are to have much of a life, we need to change our habits. However, the reality is that so much of our society — from transporting commercial goods to delivering services to the needy — depends on vehicles. And despite skyrocketing fuel prices, that’s not likely to change until the very last drop of dinosaur juice has been pumped out of the ground.

The other complex issue is where a future bypass should go.

Determining such a route would be easy if we were working with a clean slate, but we’re not. No matter whether it’s the western bypass or the eastern bypass, there are well-established neighbourhoods, farm land and natural ecosystems — the very things that give the Vernon area its special identity.

It shouldn’t shock anyone that council is split as there are no easy solutions.

And deciding Monday to consult with the Ministry of Transportation was only an expedient way to end a painful, difficult discussion that was going nowhere. But the ministry will have no magic bullet, and ultimately council will have to make some kind of decision at its next meeting June 9. If it doesn’t, there will be a major hole in the official community plan review, which is almost completed.

I bring no constructive solutions to the table, but the option I keep leaning towards is absolutely no bypass at all.

Is it ideal? No? But the sooner that we accept that 32nd Street is always going to be the main arterial highway through town and we find ways around it, the better.

And that can only happen if some of the short and medium-term goals of the transportation plan are enacted. Those include substantial financial resources going towards transit, cycling paths and walking trails. Vehicles are always going to be a reality, but alternate modes of transportation would be viable in many cases, especially for office workers.

What would also help is extending some roads, such as 48th Avenue to Old Kamloops Road, to take traffic off 32nd Street.

One part of the plan that I’m not crazy about is extending 27th Street to Highway 97 by the army camp. That would place downtown between two highways and make revitalization a distant dream.

In the end, though, there are no easy solutions and that means the hot air will continue to flow at city hall.

Blue Divider Line

Split vote puts corridor plans on hold
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - May 28, 2008

A critical component of Vernon’s transportation plan has hit a roadblock.

Uncertainty over which long-term bypass route, if any, should be in the plan arose after a motion to protect land for a western bypass died in a tie-vote Monday. The issue will come back June 9 after talks with the Ministry of Transportation.

“Council is split and looking for some indication from the ministry to help make a decision,” said Mayor Wayne Lippert.

“I don’t believe we will get it. At the next meeting, council will have to make a decision on a corridor option or nothing.”

A tie vote occurred because Coun. Buffy Baumbrough has declared a conflict of interest (her family’s land could be impacted by the western bypass). A similar situation could occur again June 9.

“I hope councillors will think about it because we need to make a decision,” said Lippert.

Lippert and Councillors Pat Cochrane and Patrick Nicol opposed the motion, while it drew support from Councillors Barry Beardsell, Juliette Cunningham and Jack Gilroy.

“There’s going to be traffic and where else are you going to put it?” said Cunningham.

Beardsell insisted that the motion only protected land for a bypass in a 25-plus year scenario, and didn’t mean the project would happen.

“Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Leave the baby in the bath, and make a determination later,” he said, adding that the matter can be revisited every five years as part of the city’s review of the official community plan.

Gilroy believes the western bypass through Mission Hill, Okanagan Landing and Bella Vista would have less disruption than a route through East Hill and the BX.

But that’s not the view of Nicol, who says Mission Hill is a well-established neighbourhood that plays a crucial role in the success of downtown.

“The community’s sense of downtown and neighbourhood strength, says no to the western bypass.”

Cochrane said that just preserving a corridor could lead to the western bypass taking place.

“This is a development corridor. There is a tremendous impact on existing property owners,” he said.

That was also the argument from Lippert, who said that designating a corridor would hurt property values for residents in the area.

Lippert is in favour of an eastern bypass because he says there isn’t as much development in the rural areas.

Like Lippert, Cunningham isn’t convinced that the matter is going to be resolved by June 9.

“Waiting two weeks isn’t going to make it any easier,” she said.

Gilroy admits that the process has been challenging.

“This is the toughest decision we’ve made in my three years on council,” he said.

While the 25-plus year component of the transportation plan is in limbo, other parts are moving ahead.

Council unanimously endorsed the short and medium-term chapters, which included expanded finances for transit and bicycle paths. The medium-term component (10 to 25 years) includes extending 27th Street to Highway 97 through Polson Park.

Blue Divider Line

City’s Future
May 28, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star - Letters

The picture on my favourite coffee mug shows a sad-looking cow hanging half-over and half-under a first-quarter moon. The accompanying written slogan is, “Nothing is ever simple.”

Somehow this picture and message remind me of Vernon’s bypass dilemma.

Better timing wouldn’t have helped this cow very much but it would have solved our bypass dilemma. Better timing wouldn’t have helped this cow very much but it would have solved our bypass dilemma.

I came to Vernon in 1948 and I think I remember at that time, some wise heads in Vernon were already planning, or had already planned, a western bypass which would disturb no one.

But some businessmen thought it would likely reduce their business, and so the plan was dropped. Now, 60 years later, the bypass problem is still with us, but much more difficult to solve because of Vernon’s growth in all directions.

The cow doesn’t have to jump over the moon, but city council does have to make a bypass decision.

My sympathy is for the individual members who know their decision cannot make every one happy. All we should ask of them is that this decision is the best possible solution for the city’s future. So be it.

Gordon Anderson

Blue Divider Line

Western bypass hits roadblock
By Pete McIntyre - Kiss FM - May 27, 2008

The controversial western bypass has hit a roadblock at Vernon city hall.

A motion to protect the highway corridor in the 25-plus-year transportation plan ended in a three-three vote Monday at city council, meaning it was defeated.

The issue will return to council in two weeks after the city finds out if the Transportation Ministry has any interest in funding the project at some point.

Councillor Patrick Nicol was among the three against protecting the route, over concerns about the impact on neighborhoods.

"I think there's other options that make just as much sense and cost a whole lot less money and can actually function a lot better.

"You preserve critical neighborhoods, Mission Hill and Okanagan Landing, and overall, the public that attended those (input) hearings, voted against it, so if these hearings are going to have any kind of substance to them, you have to respect that."

Councillor Pat Cochrane and Mayor Wayne Lippert were also against protecting the corridor.

Councillors Barry Beardsell, Jack Gilroy and Juliette Cunningham were in favour.

Councillor Buffy Baumbrough was not at Monday's meeting.

Council spent close to two hours on the plan, including hearing staff's report and then debating it.

Several councillors, including Gilroy, called it the toughest decision they've had to make on council the last three years.

Meantime, council unanimously endorsed the other two parts of the plan covering the next 25 years.

Those call for more public transit, sidewalks and cycling lanes, along with extending 27-th Street through Polson Park.

The transit plan is to increase the city's yearly investment to $500,000 for the next ten years which would add a bus a year and increase the service.

Sidewalk installation spending will increase from the current $100,000 to $400,000 a year, allowing for the addition of 34 kilometers of sidewalk the next 20 to 30 years.

Bike and trail network spending will each rise from $100,000 to $200,000 annually, with ten trails added and 52 km of bike lanes.

Blue Divider Line

Bypass remains on agenda
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - May 25, 2008

A controversial transportation plan continues to generate divisions.

After months of behind-the-scenes work and public consultation, city staff will present its proposed transportation plan to Vernon council Monday.

“The plan we are sending to council will fundamentally address transportation options in the community,” said Kim Flick, manager of planning and building.

While the document deals with a number of issues, much of the public focus has been on preserving the corridor for a western bypass through the Mission Hill, Okanagan Landing and Bella Vista areas.

Jane Weixl, with the Western Corridor Impact Assessment Committee, isn’t surprised that the bypass is still staff’s preferred option.

“They haven’t veered from it,” said Weixl, who is concerned that such a route will have a negative impact on neighborhoods, farm land and the environment.

“Everywhere in the world is going away from more roads. If we are going there any how, why not do it now instead of wasting green space and agricultural land?”

But others are standing firmly behind staff’s recommendation.

“I am pleased they are keeping the possibility of a bypass open,” said James Love, with the Western Bypass Now Committee.

But Love believes the new route is needed sooner than later because traffic congestion is negatively impacting many areas such as downtown.

“If we are going to have a vibrant downtown, we need to get much of the heavy traffic out so people can live down there,” he said.

The western bypass is part of a 25-plus year strategy, and a recent survey indicated that 266 respondents were opposed to the bypass, while 237 were in favour and 58 preferred other options.

“The consultation numbers were close,” said Flick, adding that based on public input, the proposed route has been shifted to preserve larger parcels of land.

Flick defends the need for preserving a corridor, especially if driving habits don’t evolve.

“Our street network, even with the changes proposed in the report, will fail when we reach a population of 67,000 (if traffic habits stay the same). We could reach that population in 40 or 50 years,” she said.

Flick is also quick to point out that a bypass will not occur over night.

“This (plan) isn’t about building a bypass. This is about protecting a corridor for the future and for such time as is needed,” she said, adding that construction would also depend on provincial funding being available.

Other parts of the proposed plan include a 10-year strategy that emphasizes alternate modes of transportation such as bike paths, walking trails and transit.

“It includes preliminary budget allocations for those items,” said Flick.

The 10-to-25-year strategy also calls for alternate forms of transportation, as well as extending 27th Street to Highway 97, near the army camp.

Blue Divider Line

Traffic Circles
May 25, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star - Letters

Here we go again.  Our previous mayor pushed through the construction of the traffic circle by the Schubert Center and it is debatable as to whether it has been a good thing. 

Now our traffic officials are pushing for two more traffic circles at Pleasant Valley Road and 32nd Avenue and 20th Street and 43rd Avenue 

It took a tragic accident at the 20th Street location to bring this intersection to everyone's attention but a $7,0000 makeover seems a bit much in my opinion.  The problem seems to lie with motorists taking the most convenient route to get to a given destination. 

With all the new development up at the north end of the city, motorists have now turned 20th Street into a major artery which it clearly was never intended to be. 

The residents in the area appear to want a four-way stop at 43rd Avenue which makes perfect sense and the cost to taxpayers would be far less.  

We use 32nd Avenue frequently and the four-way stop at this intersection works fine.  Why do we always have to re-invent the wheel?  Traffic circles may work well in Europe, but this is not Europe, and we are not comfortable with them. 

If they were the answer to our problems, they would be in use all over the country.  There is no question as to what a stop sign means.

Paul Foulkes

Blue Divider Line

East Hill plan draws a crowd
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - May 25, 2008

East Hill residents are demanding that their safety become a priority.

About 100 people crammed into city hall Thursday, and while opinions varied on plans for a roundabout at Pleasant Valley Road and closing Suicide Hill, the common theme was slowing traffic down and making it easier for pedestrians to navigate the residential area.

“One day, someone’s child will be hit by a vehicle,” said resident Laurie-Anne Salvino of current problems with speed.

City staff is proposing to install a roundabout at 32nd Avenue and Pleasant Valley Road and closing off the section of 30th Avenue commonly known as Suicide Hill.

Many speakers, though, expressed concern that closing Suicide Hill would force traffic on to side streets.

“We have so much traffic going on 26th Street already. It’s at capacity,” said resident Hope Ritchie.

That was also the view of Chris Cooper.

“If you block Suicide Hill, everything will go over to 32nd Avenue,” she said.

Others indicated that 30th Avenue is the easiest way for them to get home from other parts of the city.

“Gas is going up in price and you want me to drive further to go to my home,” said Margaret Heater.

However, others insisted that something must be done with Suicide Hill, especially with vehicles going beyond the posted 30-kilometre-an-hour limit.

“It’s common to see it doubled and tripled, and it’s common to see motorcycles get 50 feet of air,” said Keith Anderson.

Many pedestrians expressed fear about walking across the top of Suicide Hill because of vehicles coming up.

“They’re always burning their tires on the hill,” said Dan Stark.

Andrea Thorburn called for pedestrian safety to be included in any changes.

“We need to make sure there are proper walking routes first,” she said.

Many demanded that speed limits be enforced.

“The problem isn’t the road. The problem is it’s not being policed,” said Larry Guenther.

The concept of a roundabout at Pleasant Valley Road and 32nd Avenue also fostered a lot of debate.

“A traffic circle (downtown) has been an abysmal failure in our community. It’s a bird-brained idea,” said Gary Delgarno.

Most speakers didn’t contest the need to make improvements at the intersection to reduce accidents. They just don’t want a roundabout.

“The problem will be solved with a proper red-green stop light,” said Fred Hartley.

City staff, though, did receive some praise for the plans being considered.

“The engineers have done something that will reduce traffic and increase sidewalks,” said Marta Green.

Input from the meeting will now be considered by city staff and council before a final decision is made.

“Nothing is written in stone and these are just proposals,” said Mayor Wayne Lippert.

Blue Divider Line

Rural directors support city’s western bypass
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - May 23, 2008

A controversial proposed bypass through Vernon has been endorsed by the region’s rural politicians.

The Electoral Area Services Committee passed a motion Tuesday supporting corridor preservation for a western bypass through Vernon.

“It has a lesser impact on agricultural land than other options,” said Rick Fairbairn, EASC chairman and rural Lumby director for the North Okanagan Regional District.

That decision came after the EASC received a presentation from the City of Vernon on its draft transportation plan.

City staff have recommended the western bypass to Vernon council, but that option has come under attack from many residents who say it will divide existing neighbourhoods in the Mission Hill, Okanagan Landing and Bella Vista areas. They also claim it will negatively impact agricultural land and the natural environment.

However, the rural politicians say the western bypass is preferred to other options, such as an eastern route going through East Vernon and the BX.

“The people in the eastern areas don’t want a highway running through their area for the same reasons people in the west don’t want it,” said Stan Field, BX-Silver Star director.

Field added that as long as the BX remains within NORD’s jurisdiction, a new highway is unlikely.

“There won’t be a lot of development in the rural areas and it’s all in the Agricultural Land Reserve,” said Field.

“They (city) would be hard pressed to get road easements through development. We want to protect the ALR lands.”

City staff will present the transportation plan to council May 26 for consideration, and until that occurs, little is being said about the content of the document.

“Our staff recommendations have been amended based on public input. The bypass design has been altered,” said Lorne Holowachuk, transportation specialist.

The plan provides a number of options for short, medium and long-term timeframes.

“We’ve done a real thorough assessment of the alternatives,” said Holowachuk.

“Council has the benefit of staff thinking beyond the 25-year period.”

Blue Divider Line

Suicide Hill proposal draws fire
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - May 21, 2008

Radical traffic changes proposed for Vernon’s East Hill are getting a rough ride.

There appears to be growing opposition to plans that could see a roundabout installed at 32nd Avenue and Pleasant Valley Road and closing off the section of 30th Avenue commonly known as Suicide Hill.

“Everyone is just outraged,” said resident Hope Ritchey, who has launched a petition campaign.

Ritchey lives on 26th Street and she takes issue with suggestions from city staff that traffic could use 26th Street to access East Hill instead of Suicide Hill.

“It makes no sense to funnel traffic from Suicide Hill on to our narrow, little street,” she said.

“When backing out of my driveway, you have to be so careful now because traffic is coming from both ways.”

Ian Hawes, who lives right next to Suicide Hill, wants traffic slowed, but the route to remain open.

“The problem isn’t the volume of traffic but the speed going up the hill,” he said.

Hawes also says there is a problem with late-night parties along Suicide Hill and he expects that will get worse if no one is driving by and observing questionable activity.

The prospect of a roundabout replacing the four-way stop at 32nd Avenue and Pleasant Valley Road is raising eyebrows for resident Fred Hartley, who has observed numerous accidents there over the years.

“I can’t see the new solution working because if the idiots don’t stop for a flashing light, they won’t stop for a roundabout,” he said.

City staff could not be reached for comment, but transportation engineer Lorne Holowachuk recently stated that the changes will improve safety.

“That whole area, we plan to be upgrading and revising designs along the routes and the intersections involved,” he said.

But city staff isn’t getting much support from the politicians.

“I find the idea to close Suicide Hill personally wrong and some of the expenses are excessive,” said Coun. Barry Beardsell, who lives in the immediate area.

Beardsell’s concerns are shared by Mayor Wayne Lippert.

“I’m not convinced it needs to be done. We always talk about safety and traffic flow, but I haven’t heard of any complaints there,” said Lippert.

The proposed changes will be the focus of a public input meeting Thursday at 7 p.m. at city hall, and Lippert is encouraging residents to come out.

“It’s the people living up in that area that will be most affected,” he said.

Blue Divider Line

Sounds like a plan
Vernon Morning Star - May 9, 2008 - Letters

I'm not certain where Ms. Buick lives (letters, April 13), but I'm guessing it is Okanagan Landing, The Commonage, or Bella Vista. We live in East Hill, within a few blocks of the proposed new highway. I don't want the highway in my backyard either. I'm sure the parents and teachers of students of the two elementary and one secondary school on 27th Street, as well as local residents, will agree with me.

A study released Feb. 1 by the American Journal of Epidemiology states: "Kids who live in neighborhoods with heavy traffic pollution have lower IQ's and score worse on other tests of intelligence and memory than children who breathe cleaner air."

For this reason alone, 27th Street should not be considered an option. As well, most of Vernon’s transient crime happens within a few blocks of the highway (easy, busy escape route).

Here's a plan...let's do nothing.

I'm sure if you asked the people of Vernon how to spend their money, the priority would not be to make it easier, faster and cheaper for foreign and local companies to ship their goods through our city, diminishing our wallets and quality of life. It is the provincial and federal governments’ responsibility to build highways.

Picture a road similar to the new Island highway or the Connector up the west side of Okanagan Lake. There are right of ways for interchanges at Fintry and Valley of the Sun now. By having through traffic bypass the valley floor completely, associated noise, pollution, and crime will be reduced from Westbank to Vernon. Heck, we may not even need the extra lane across Okanagan Lake.

North Okanagan residents could cut their travel time to Vancouver by 20 per cent. Going to Kelowna in the summer would not be the nightmare it is now.

The west side... an area with decent water supplies and little farmland would be open for development, relieving stress on our little piece of heaven.

Like the Island Highway, communities and services would be developed around the highway instead of cramming it through a populated area due to lack of foresight (Kelowna).

Ask any resident of Ladysmith, Courtenay, or Qualicum Beach if they are worse off now than before the Island Highway was built.

Building a freeway through our city is a throughpass (fare?)... not a bypass, and is not a solution to anything.

Let's sit on our hands, not fix someone else’s problem. Not putting a band-aid on the problem may even help in the development of a real bypass in our time.

May we all breathe easier and dust less.

Michael Watt

Blue Divider Line

Moving forward into the future
April 20, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star

I was in attendance at the public input session for the City of Vernon draft transportation plan March 25. I believe that there should have been some criteria to be met for those wishing to express their opinions. 

First, that they had been in attendance at one of the previously held information sessions. Second, presenters should have obtained some level of understanding as to what the transportation plan was all about.  The planners’ presentations were very informative, and demonstrated a great deal of thought for both the short and long-term transportation needs of our city. 

Speaker after speaker demonstrated to me that they seemingly had not attended any of the information sessions.  If they had, they demonstrated, in some cases, absolutely no understanding of the transportation options that are under study. 

The elevated bypass or the one-way couplet plan may well be the very poorest of all options.  Highway traffic must come out of the city centre. Any efforts to keep it there are most foolhardy. 

The eastern bypass does not seem to be a viable option for all the reasons put forward by city planners.  However, the adding and upgrading of roadways throughout our city are as necessary as allowing people to move to our city.  Increased growth can only mean increased infrastructure — keeping the status quo is not an option. 

The NIMBY people should hold their tongues or at least think about what they are saying before their public venting. Often their attitudes are ones that would have kept them out of our community in the first place. Are they not living on former aboriginal ground or ground where the deer and antelope played, or orchards held sway? 

Those in favour of taking traffic to the other side of Okanagan Lake are taking a stance that isn't even being considered.  Considered it was but it is not now, and probably never will be a viable option. 

While it was easy to accept the pleas of those who are being personally affected by transportation changes in our community, those cannot be the reason for not proceeding. Development comes with its consequences.

So we are down to the western bypass option. It is not a good option.   However, it is the best option by far.  Status quo is not an option.  We must set aside land for the western bypass now so that when the time comes (whenever that is), it can be accomplished. 

From reading what The Morning Star tells us, one gets the impression that we need to have consensus on the options provided.  Anybody who believes consensus is necessary, will never see a new city hall, RCMP detachment, library, museum or art gallery.  Consensus to spend money or disrupt our community in any way, will not happen. 

The people we have elected to make the big decisions need to do so and move forward.Input from the public is always a part of this process, but in the end, we expect our elected officials and city management to make the decisions that make the best sense. 

A prime example of how not to do things was the recent plebiscite. We were presented with a very inferior plan totally hampered by an ill-conceived or non-existent communication plan.  We still need a new city hall, room for the RCMP, an expanded or new library, an expanded or new museum and art gallery. 

City officials still need to find room for everyone to do their jobs, and work in facilities and amenities that are appropriate to our city.  All that will cost money and the process won't be complete until all the infrastructure mentioned above is in place. 

We need city hall to move forward with what's best for our community, and let's hope and pray they can get it right.

Bob Herringer

Blue Divider Line

City Off Base
Vernon Morning Star - Letters - April 13, 2008 page A9

It seems that our venerable city council is disappointed with the response level to their transportation survey.

I will tell you I am very interested in this subject and I checked to see when the meetings were.

I penciled in my calendar the only time I was not working and I went to the venue, no meeting at that time.

OK, so I went to where the info was displayed and found it to be of such poor quality and non-informative, that I just put the survey down and walked away in disgust.

This council needs to learn that the people of our city will be holding them accountable. I was one of the people who voted against your last referendum.

The proposal did not reflect the money to be spent.  We need to remember the community has wealthy and poor and folks in between sharing these costs and we need to make the best choices for all of these people.

Until the information is put forward properly to all of us, I will continue to vote against any initiatives this council puts forward.

There will be an election soon and one can only hope the next mayor and councillors are more interested in the community than their own agendas.

Pamela Guenard

Blue Divider Line

Transportation plan needed now
April 13, 2008 - Vernon Morning Star

Vernon city planners need to wake up and give their heads a shake. They appear to be pushing through a western bypass without due consideration for environmental consequences. The planners must try to visualize the effects of such a route, by imagining what it would be like to live within the loop or nearby bypass - something that is hard to do. The building of this route would be the most serious planning mistake in Vernon’s history.

The western bypass route should not go ahead for the following reasons:

• desecration of a large beautiful area of Okanagan Landing - The Commonage and Bella Vista Hills. The character of the entire area would change forever. It would no longer be regarded as a “resort area”

• Traffic noise, day and night, would reverberate between the Commonage and Bella Vista hills, as highway noise does between the sides of the valley at Oyama. Heavy air pollution from traffic would concentrate in the valley bottom and vent particularly toward lake Okanagan Lake and downtown Vernon. It’s bad enough now in the summer.

• The route would create an ugly scar on the landscape. A bypass through town would avoid this and would be less disruptive to the whole population.

• Housing prices would be impacted negatively over half the Landing area and along the route as people would not want to live there. This will have a tremendous impact on tax revenues for the City of Vernon.

• Truckers are highly critical of such a bypass and indicate they will not use it because of the increased length and additional grades. Other drivers won’t use it for the same reasons, consider the winter driving risks of these extra grades.

• The Ministry of Transportation and ALR do not support this route. Why? Which route(s) would they support?

The subject of a bypass has been discussed for the past 30 years or more. Vernon needs to bite the bullet and make a decision now. Not in 10, 20 or 50 years time. The build-up of traffic on 32nd St. indicates this present need. The decision should not be left to future generations to deal with or future councils, so there is no continuity..

There should only be one major traffic corridor through Vernon - not two - and the idea of turning 32nd street and 27th Street into one-way thoroughfares on a temporary basis is foolish due to confusion it would create. The planning department has turned down an East Vernon bypass route as being too costly and impractical - reasons would surely apply to the western bypass route - if not more.

Therefore, that only leaves 27th St. as the bypass route (as the planning department has turned down a railway overpass route as costly and impractical - reasons that would surely apply to the western bypass route - if not more.

Therefore, that leaves only 27th St. as the bypass route (as the planning department has turned down a railway overpass route as costing $1 billion and too impractical). The planning department suggests connecting Hwy. 97 and Hwy. 6 over Polson Park - this route seems acceptable. And it is probably the cheapest bypass route, but it will require no red lights. Some cross streets would have to be closed off until the underpass is built . It seems very doable, There is no point in extending 27th street traffic on Hwy. 97 though Polson Park unless complete 27th St. bypass route is dealt with at the same time, as it would create a traffic bottleneck. In any event, what ever route is selected, it would probably cost $1 billion by the time it is completed. The longer the decision is put off, the more expensive it becomes. In 10 years time the cost could mount to $2-3 billion.

Perhaps the city should consult an outside transportation expert on this extremely important matter regarding Vernon’s future.

Anna Buick

Blue Divider Line

Rail options
Vernon Morning Star - April 11, 2008

I am surprised that the transportation planning discussion does not mention rail options.

We have an existing, but lightly used, rail line that could serve commuters in the North Okanagan.

The run from Kelowna to Grindrod, if served well, could take many commuters off the road.

At the Kelowna end, bus service could be established.

The rail line could include stops for airport/UBC, Winfield, Oyama, Okanagan College (Vernon), hospital (Vernon), downtown Vernon, north end (Vernon), Swan Lake, Larkin, Tolko plant (Armstrong), industrial park (Armstrong), downtown Armstrong, downtown Enderby and downtown Grindrod — and any place in-between that seems worthwhile.

This approach benefits everybody.

Everyone can avoid using the car.

Running commuter service on an existing rail line has to be much cheaper than going through the whole process of creating a new bypass on the ALR

The other major winner is the environment.

Public transit is better for our beautiful part of the planet.

Bill Harrison

Blue Divider Line

Facts are needed
Facts are needed article from the Vernon Morning Star April 6, 2008 page A9
click article to read larger print
Letters article from the Vernon Morning Star April 6, 2008 page A9

If the city presents Vernon's western bypass facts for costs, route, overpasses or no overpasses and allows citizens to make the decisions, instead of council treating everyone like they are a child that does not know any better, maybe then the city could trust citizens to make the decision that is best for citizens.

I do not want a few on city council deciding for me, but instead I want pure democracy (citizens) to help make decisions. After all, council is made up of very few citizens to have the full responsibility to decide for all its citizens, and most often than not, council does not choose the wishes of the public. Instead, council wastes money choosing what they think is best, which may not be what the citizens think is best. With no information, citizens don't understand why council chose its decisions. Citizens don't like to be told. I wish government would stop with the dictatorship.

I keep hearing and reading in the newspaper that citizens don't understand. Well it's time the facts were available so that citizens can understand and can make decisions. If citizens had the same information that council has, then maybe citizens wouldn't be so upset when decisions are made that most citizens do not want but what may be for the better. It's hard to understand council's decisions when citizens don't have the facts. More communication is needed and not just at meetings.

Gas is expensive when you live 45 minutes from town. I don't understand why the city doesn't publish facts in the newspaper which many people read most weeks? Isn't it past time we had Internet voting as well? Most often than not, half the population is working so hard and have families that they need to take care of first that they don't have time to attend meetings, even when they do care passionately about a subject.

I feel city council should be required to do the work to find out what its citizens want by way of newspaper, online questionnaires, online voting, surveys, flyers, etc.

We pay the city employees and council, and I feel council shouldn't be telling its citizens what to do unless council pays its citizens.

I feel it should be, citizens' wish is council's command, and not the other way around.

Blue Divider Line

Some creativity is required
Vernon Morning Star Letters - April 04, 2008

After reading an article regarding the western bypass option for Vernon, I was pleased to read that Vernon residents decided against it but I couldn't help but think that we

In a time of global climate crisis when we are being asked to reduce, reuse and recycle more than ever before, people are actually

The problem is that the existing highway is congested and the air and noise pollution is heavy, and those are big

Another consideration in creating alternate highways is the impact that could have on the downtown core. Should we be concerned that the improvements that have been made over the years with regards to downtown crime could be

There is an old saying "build it and they will come," with roads comes commerce and the development of commercial shops and services that would accompany a new highway.

Could we see a displacement of a downtown business sector? Do we really need more strip malls? Considering an alternate by-pass route is not long-term thinking is it? Is it a short-sighted solution to an on-going problem, something that will never go away no matter how many bypass routes we build?

It's clear that people in our community want to keep our greenspaces, the residents of Coldstream turned down a sports field to keep theirs, why would Vernon or NORD want anything less?

I also recall a

We need ideas that can accommodate growth but also be

Let's learn from the mistakes of others and not walk in their paths and let's strive for better, long-term choices.

Heath Fletcher

Blue Divider Line

Residents say ‘we’ll pass’ on bypass
By Roger Knox - Vernon Morning Star - March 28, 2008

Linda Kennedy grew up in the Okanagan, and, as a child, she remembers vividly having to take a ferry from Okanagan Landing to Kelowna along Okanagan Lake.

In her opinion, Kennedy told a crowd of 150 gathered at the Vernon Recreation Complex Tuesday for a public input session on the city’s draft transportation plan, it was during that time that somebody should have built a western bypass. Not now.

“I shudder to think that a western bypass is the only alternative in the long run,” said Kennedy, who turns 70 later this year. A bypass on the west side of Okanagan Lake won’t take much of the traffic away now.”

A proposed western bypass through the Mission Hill, Okanagan Landing and Bella Vista areas is one option presented by the city in its draft transportation plan, and drew a lot of discussion from the crowd.

George Hudson, who lives on Okanagan Avenue, and was the first of 40 speakers in the nearly three-hour session, told the city to “look east.”

“I think the (Okanagan) Landing is a jewel in the crown that is Vernon, but it’s a finite area bordered by a lake,” said Hudson. “And there’s only so much room for abuse. This highway bypass has nothing in it for residents. Maybe it will save two minutes on the way to Kelowna, maybe three minutes on the way to Kamloops.

“If there absolutely positively has to be a bypass, I think in the long-term we should look east. It’s wide open and there’s no natural boundaries out that way. I think the city should stop bullying the Landing and spread the misery around.”

A recent survey indicated that 237 respondents wanted a western corridor protection, while 266 were opposed, and 58 per cent preferred other options to the western bypass.

One of those options, which garnered a handful of positive responses at the public meeting, is “looking east” by extending 27th and 32nd Streets.

“We should keep the city in the city, the country in the country and keep the traffic where it is,” said Simone Runyan, a Coldstream resident.

The western bypass did garner support from speakers such as Ingrid Baron, who lives on Mission Hill.

“It’s pathetic what goes on on that highway,” said Baron, in reference to the speeding trucks and vehicles on Highway 97 near hospital hill and the army camp. “I’ve lived at my house for the last 19 years and it wasn’t anything like it is today 19 years ago. The western bypass is the most viable option.”

Aaron Kiselback, 39, who said he was saddened by lack of people in attendance from his generation, told the audience he doesn’t know what solution there can be for traffic problems besides the bypass.

“What does the city do about the geography of Vernon, when most things are in farm land?” he asked.

A great number of speakers were concerned about any option that eliminates green space and agricultural land.

A portion of Polson Park would be removed for an extension of 27th and 32nd Streets. And, as Vernon native and long-time Bella Vista Road resident Mas Sakakibara pointed out, the western bypass would require a great deal of land taken out of the Agricultural Land Reserve.

“The reserve considers the Bella Vista area to be one of the prime agricultural areas of B.C., and, already, we have a lot of development on Bella Vista Road, a lot of the farmland has disappeared,” he said. “We can’t afford to lose any more farm land.”

Colin Heggie, a fellow Bella Vista resident, and who lives “200 metres from the proposed western bypass,” asked city officials if a plan for compensation is in place to those whose property would be “sterilized over the next couple of decades while waiting for the bypass to happen or not happen.”

Lorne Holowachuk, the city’s transportation specialist, said discussions in the past had talked of concessions on taxation for affected residents, or a half-dozen other forms of concession.

“But we’re not even close to that level,” Holowachuk told Heggie.

A number of speakers want the city to pursue more bus routes, bike paths, Park and Ride and commuting options.

City officials were praised by many speakers for the work and effort they had put into the plans.

Holowachuk was thrilled to see so many people turn out to voice their opinions, and give city officials some input into all aspects of the proposed transportation draft plan.

“There were a lot of great comments,” he said.

City staff will take the information collected from the public input meeting, and incorporate it into the final transportation plan. That will be merged with the official community plan, and the goal is to present a final draft plan to Vernon City Council in time for its May 26 meeting.

Blue Divider Line

Web site promotes western bypass
From Vernon Morning Star February 29, 2008

A proposed highway bypass through Vernon is the focus of a new Web site.

Businessman James Love has established to push for the construction of a western bypass immediately rather than waiting 25-plus years, as the City of Vernon’s transportation plan calls for.

Love says he is concerned about the impact of pollution on people with respiratory problems.

“It's true that the western and eastern bypasses will have some limited environmental and farm land impacts, however, these concerns can be easily mitigated,” he said.

“Protecting our children from certain lung damage can only be achieved by moving the highways out of Vernon now. Most people know that the western bypass must be built now, but the city is kowtowing to a vocal minority.”

He added that Vernon has five schools, numerous seniors homes and day cares within close proximity of 27th, Street and 32nd Street and traffic must be diverted from the area

"My son is going to attend one of the vulnerable schools next year, so this fight has become personal. There is not going to be a highway passing by his school and the four others on 27th Street."

Love also takes issues with plans to extend 27th Street to Highway 97, and he says, if necessary, he will block traffic to prevent that possibility from occurring.

“It's time that moms, dads, grandmothers, and grandfathers stand up to the small well organized vocal cranks who oppose any improvements to Vernon's health and vitality as a city.,” he said.

Love plans to use his Web site to gather a group of citizens who support the western bypass and who also wish to support positive

"Vernon can not be a great city with a major highway running right through the center of the city which poisons the lungs of children and vulnerable seniors,” he said.

Blue Divider Line

Poor survey turnout a concern
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - March 12, 2008

Questions are arising over the level of public interest on transportation issues in Vernon.

City staff presented preliminary results of the draft transportation plan consultation process to council Monday, but Coun. Barry Beardsell was left wondering why so few people actually took the time to fill out surveys.

“On an issue that important, 561 responses is very low,” he said.

“Maybe this (plan details) is so far down the road, maybe the public is saying, ‘Deal with it then.’”

Concerns about the level of public participation were echoed by Kim Flick, the city’s long range planner.

“It was surprisingly low, especially given the press coverage,” she said.

“We expected to see more people out in attendance (at open houses) and surveys completed.”

The draft plan covers a number of transportation scenarios for the short, medium and long-term.

Among the most controversial is the possibility of preserving a corridor for a western bypass, which would run through Mission Hill, Okanagan Landing and Bella Vista.

Of the survey respondents, 237 stated they want corridor protection while 266 were in opposition. Fifty-eight preferred other options.

“Based on our analysis and the doubling of the population, we are at least 40 or 50 years away from needing the bypass,” said Lorne Holowachuk, transportation specialist.

*NOTE FROM*  We can't believe this statement above.  Who planned the highway to go through downtown Vernon to start with?  Was it city planners or council?  Vernon ended up with an expensive overpass that took years to build and no highway bypass around Vernon.  We think its time citizens did the planning and citizens have the final say.  If we wait 40 or 50 years for a bypass can you just imagine??  And this guy is a transportation specialist????  We think this specialist should specialize in something else not so important so it doesn't effect everyone!  A bypass for Vernon was needed years ago!  Every town needs a bypass unless of course you want to see big trucks coming through town polluting where your walking.  How much pollution do you think is hanging around the hospital with all those trucks having a hard time trying to make it up hospital hill from a full stop and fully loaded?

Opponents to the western bypass claim the route would negatively impact existing neighbourhoods, destroy farm land and natural areas and take traffic away from downtown businesses.

However, a Western Bypass Now Committee has been formed to push for the highway and to speed up the timeline for the project.

“The western bypass is about managing the growth of our city so it can remain beautiful and not become choked with polluting traffic jams,” said spokesman James Love.

“Drive through Kelowna at noon and you’ll see what the anti-western bypass folks are really advocating.”

Other aspects of the transportation plan deal with alternate modes of getting around town such as walking and cycling.

“Many people were specific in their own inability to use transit,” said Flick.

While the survey results have been tabulated, the public still has a chance to speak out on the transportation plan.

There will be a public input session March 25 at 5:30 p.m. at the Vernon Recreation Complex.

“Council will be at the input session,” said Mayor Wayne Lippert.

Blue Divider Line

Bypass splits community
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - March 09, 2008

Residents appear divided over a proposed western bypass in Vernon.

The preliminary results of a publication consultation process indicates that opinions on protecting the corridor for a western bypass are virtually split.

“It’s very close and we are closely analyzing the data,” said Kim Flick, long range planner.

Of 561 surveys filled out, 237 (42.3 per cent) indicate support for corridor protection while 266 (47.4 per cent) are opposed. Fifty-eight (10.3 per cent) had other views.

A report to be presented to council Monday says that corridor protection was desirable among some survey respondents as a way of getting traffic out of downtown.

“It is worth noting that many who opted to support corridor protection expressed serious concerns about negative impacts on agricultural land, grasslands, noise levels and views,” the report states.

“Those in favour of the no bypass option were concerned about negative impacts to agricultural land, grasslands, noise levels and views.

“Many were very concerned about the cost and the impacts on the livability of the area, especially Okanagan Landing.”

In terms of those who had other views, many preferred different options for moving traffic through Vernon.

“Others felt it was too early to make any decision,” states the report.

The environment was a main focus of survey respondents.

“There is strong public sentiment to preserve the Bella Vista range as a park,” stated the staff report.

The survey was conducted as part of the city’s current transportation plan process.

Besides bypass issues, another aspect of the draft plan is possibly extending 27th Street to link up with Highway 97, near the army camp.

“There is a desire to see the 27th Street extension over Polson Park in the zero to 10-year strategy as opposed to the 10 to 25-year strategy,” states the report.

The preliminary survey results are only being presented to council members Monday for informational purposes.

Public comments are still being received by letter, and the city will officially host a public input session March 25 at 5:30 p.m. at the Vernon Recreation Complex auditorium.

“We will consider all of that input before we make a final recommendation to council,” said Flick of the draft transportation plan.

Blue Divider Line

Sides should meet regularly
From March 07, 2008 Vernon Morning Star page A8

At long last, there is some positive news involving the City of Vernon and the Vernon Taxpayers Association.

The two sides had a face-to-face encounter this week to discuss local issues, instead of, as is usually the case, battling with each other over such issues in the media.

Vernon Mayor Wayne Lippert invited association president Tony Stamboulieh and three other members of his group to discuss items. Also sitting in on the talks was Coun. Jack Gilroy.

Up for discussion were such topics as the recent failed civic complex referendum, which the association vehemently opposed, and so did the constituents who voted in the referendum, overwhelmingly rejecting the city’s plan.

The proposed western bypass for the city was brought up. So was Okanagan Landing sewer services, the city possibly getting out of the Greater Vernon water utility and future development.

Both sides agreed the meeting was welcome and productive.

That being the case, then, these types of meetings between the two sides should be scheduled on a regular basis. Perhaps quarterly, or even bi-monthly.

Short of having someone from the taxpayers association running in the municipal elections in November, and winning a seat, these meetings will help keep Vernon’s unofficial watchdogs appeased and abreast of goings-on in the city.

Lippert says his door is always open for the taxpayers association.

Stamboulieh called having a politician who decides to have dialogue with his constituents “a good thing.”


Blue Divider Line

Mayor sits down with critics
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - March 07, 2008

Vernon Mayor Wayne Lippert came face-to-face with some of the city’s biggest critics Tuesday.

Four members of the Vernon Taxpayers Association sat down with Lippert and Coun. Jack Gilroy to discuss numerous issues of concerns.

“I’ve always said my door is open and they can come and talk to me anytime,” said Lippert.

Tony Stamboulieh, association spokesman, welcomed the opportunity to discuss issues with Lippert.

“It’s a good thing when a politician decides to have dialogue with his constituents. We gave him a lot of good feedback,” said Stamboulieh.

Among the matters discussed was the city’s draft transportation plan and a city staff recommendation to preserve a long-term corridor for the western bypass.

“It’s been a very biased presentation in terms of the western bypass and the public should be able to choose,” said Jane Weixl, an association member.

Weixl was told by Lippert that council will ultimately listen to the public when it comes to transportation options.

“He reaffirmed to me — which makes me feel good — that the city doesn’t have to protect the western bypass, just a corridor in the community,” she said, adding that
there are other possible routes to handle traffic.

Among the other issues discussed were the city possibly withdrawing from the Greater Vernon water utility, and sewer services in Okanagan Landing.

“Okanagan Landing residents are being singled out to pay enormous sums of money for sewer where other residents don’t pay these charges,” said Alan Hill, an association member, who reiterated a common view that sewer was promised at no cost when the Landing joined Vernon.

In the wake of the failed civic complex referendum, Stamboulieh asked Lippert for the costs involved with architectural drawings and advertising.

“They should have provided the information right away,” said Stamboulieh.

The association also wants a moratorium on what it deems to be sprawl development so issues such as water and transportation can be addressed.

“It gives a chance for people to take stock and for the official community plan to be completed,” said Stamboulieh.

In terms of development, Lippert insists that his council has taken a go-slow approach.

“The city has put out the message that we are looking at the OCP. There is still development, but nothing massive,” he said.

Lippert also believes it is important for the association and residents to be familiar with the city’s boundaries.

“The sprawl development they were referring to was in Coldstream,” he said.

Blue Divider Line

City tries to keep process on track
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - February 20, 2008

There’s more to Vernon’s draft transportation plan than just a proposed highway bypass.

That is the message the city is trying to get out after a couple of public open houses on the document.

“The transportation plan is about alternate transportation and using existing networks,” said Kim Flick, a long range planner.

However, many of the details are apparently being ignored as residents target just one element of the plan.

“People are focused on corridor protection for the western bypass,” said Flick.

The fact that city staff has recommended preservation of land for the western bypass as a long-term goal has upset some residents.

They claim the route would disrupt existing neighbourhoods and destroy farm land and natural grasslands while diverting business from Vernon’s downtown core.

But Flick says the transportation plan only calls for protecting the corridor and there is no guarantee the bypass would be constructed.

She added that if other short and medium-term aspects of the plan are pursued, the matter of the bypass may not have to be addressed for at least 40 to 50 years.

Other components of the transportation plan include extending some existing roads to improve traffic flow, extending 27th Street through Polson Park to reach Highway 97 and expanding transit, cycling and pedestrian options.

More open houses will be held today at Okanagan Landing Elementary from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.; the Halina Centre Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m.; and at the Vernon Recreation Complex until Feb. 29 from 3 to 6 p.m.

As part of the open houses, residents are asked to fill out a survey on transportation issues.

The city will hold a public input session at city hall March 25 at 5:30 p.m. It will be attended by members of council.

Flick is adamant that public input gathered at the sessions will become part of the transportation plan process.

“There is no hidden agenda. If the results of the survey don’t support corridor protection, we won’t recommend corridor protection to council,” she said.

The city isn’t the only organization trying to get the public involved over the draft transportation plan.

The North Okanagan Naturalists Club will hold a public meeting Feb. 27 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Schubert Centre.

“We are trying to have this as a true community input session,” said Jim Bodkin, club member.

The focus of the meeting will be the western bypass and the potential negative impact on the environment, and specifically the Bella Vista grasslands.

Among those participating in the club’s meeting will be the City of Vernon, the Western Corridor Impact Assessment Committee and the Sustainable Environment Network Society.

Bodkin is hoping residents will attend the meeting as a way of getting better informed.

“We want lots of time for questions and input. We will get everyone’s point of view up there and have a debate,” he said.

The North Okanagan Naturalists Club recently came out opposed to the western bypass and preservation of a corridor for it.

The group insists that a bypass will lead to more development, and that a highway doesn’t fit into the city’s mandate.

“The city should concentrate on city traffic matters and stop trying to second guess the provincial government. The province says the city is jumping the gun,” said Bodkin.

Blue Divider Line

Public must get involved
February 15, 2008 Vernon Morning Star

No sooner did the City of Vernon release the draft transportation plan, and the war of words began.

Those individuals and groups who oppose a western bypass see the document as a verification of their worst fears because city staff has put that forward as their preferred option.

Beyond the details of the plan, there is a difference of opinion over process. The city claims it is doing everything it can to garner public input on the plan — which covers a variety of issues beyond just bypasses — while critics suggest the final outcome has been pre-determined and any attempt to solicit public feedback is smoke and mirrors.

There is perhaps a kernel of truth to each view, so residents really shouldn’t get hung up on who is right and who is wrong.

The bottom line is that transportation issues and the ability of citizens to get around are crucial now and in the years to come.

When it comes to navigating highway traffic through Vernon, there are limited alternatives so each needs to be considered carefully. Is the western bypass the best route? Or is it an eastern bypass, an overhead highway or just doing nothing at all?

But building new roads isn’t the only aspect of the plan. There is also a focus on getting people out of cars either through cycling, bike paths or transit.

What is needed now is for all residents to get directly involved in the process.

Attend the city’s open houses and input sessions. Read the plan and check out information from the Western Corridor Impact Assessment Committee and the North Okanagan Naturalists Club.

Do your homework and become aware. Let your council know exactly how you want transportation issues to be handled.

Blue Divider Line

Farmer fears bypass plans
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - February 15, 2008 pg A5

A Vernon orchardist fears a proposed bypass could rip apart prime farm land and undermine food security.

Ron Pattermann, who owns a 23-acre orchard in the Bella Vista area, believes the western bypass could have a devastating impact on viable farming operations in Vernon.

“Every time we do a road, we whittle away at the land base for farms,” he said.

The city’s draft transportation plan outlines a variety of options for handling highway traffic through the community. The option preferred by city staff is the western bypass.

It would divert traffic from downtown, and run from Highway 97, near the army camp, through Mission Hill, Okanagan Landing and Bella Vista before reconnecting with the highway near Swan Lake.

“The city says it would only take five acres from me for it, but it alienates the rest of the land,” said Pattermann, who says it would be difficult to operate under those circumstances, including just accessing it by tractor.

“My property would be split in half. How do you operate it? How do you spray? How do you get across to it?”

Pattermann goes on to say that the Bella Vista area should be preserved for farm use because it is one of the few areas where fruit and grapes can be properly grown.

“I’ve had people from all over the world come to my orchard,” he said, pointing out that he has won two awards for farming.

He is increasingly concerned about residents being able to access locally raised food, and he says that will still be an issue in 30 or 40 years, the potential timeframe for the bypass.

“We are still going to need farm land then,” he said.

The city is currently reviewing its official community plan and one option calls for the preservation of agricultural land and natural ecosystems.

“This highway flies in the face of everything people wanted at the OCP meetings,” said Pattermann.

The city will solicit public feedback on the transportation plan through a series of open houses and an input session March 25.

Coun. Jack Gilroy doesn’t believe residents should be concerned about the western bypass actually being built.

“It’s just another option to take to the people for consideration but I hope they will say no to the western bypass,” he said.

“The grade is too much and will disrupt things too much.”

Gilroy also states that any new highway would require government funding.

“Do you think we have the $635 million for it?” he said of the city.

To handle highway flow through Vernon, Gilroy favours extending 27th Street to Highway 97.

The Western Corridor Impact Assessment Committee, which opposes the western bypass, has established a Web site at

“We want people to know the pros and cons of the bypass,” said member Jane Weixl.

Blue Divider Line

Inside the carbon tax revolution
The twinning Port Mann will be tolled, and there is even talk of a London-style "congestion charge" for the privilege of driving into downtown Vancouver.
Vernon Morning Star article from Feb 29, 2008 page B13
Also in Kelowna Capital News Feb 27, 2008
click article for larger print or click link above

Another new consumption tax is about to hit: B.C.'s newest toll bridge is nearing completion.  The twinning Port Mann will be tolled, and there is even talk of a London-style "congestion charge" for the privilege of driving into downtown Vancouver.

Blue Divider Line

Complaints surface over lack of road maintenance
From the Vernon Morning Star Letters Feb 15, 2008 page A12
Complaints surface over lack of road maintenance.
click article to read it
The City of Vernon is demanding that local highways be maintained to required standards.

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Environmentalists take aim at bypass
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - February 13, 2008

The City of Vernon’s transportation plan could result in ecological disaster, warns an environmental group.

The North Okanagan Naturalists Club has come out opposed to the draft plan and specifically a corridor being preserved for the western bypass.

“It’s more than a transportation plan. It opens up the Bella Vista grasslands to development,” said Jim Bodkin, a club member.

“We are frightened and we feel a sense of betrayal on this.”

The bypass is included in the transportation plan as a long-term goal (25 years or more).

It would divert traffic from downtown, and run from Highway 97, near the army camp, through Mission Hill, Okanagan Landing and Bella Vista before reconnecting with the highway near Swan Lake.

“The bypass is just a smoke-screen. The real plan is to open up Bella Vista to development,” said Bodkin.

The club insists that the proposal goes against public wishes to protect green spaces and sensitive ecosystems as identified during the official community plan review.

“Grasslands are the most threatened ecosystem we have in B.C.,” said Bodkin.

City officials state the transportation plan only calls for the corridor to be preserved and it doesn’t mean that construction of the bypass will actually occur. The club disagrees.

“Clearly if these routes are somehow reserved, the steamroller momentum of development demand will ensure they become reality,” states a release.

While the city is planning input sessions on the transportation plans, the club hopes to hold public meetings on the Bella Vista grasslands.

“The city has put a spin on what it’s selling,” said Bodkin, who wants a grasslands park established.

Mayor Wayne Lippert points out that the transportation plan is just a draft at this point, and no final decisions have been made.

“It’s a serious concern and we are aware of it,” he said of the possible environmental implications.

“Everything is open right now. There is no guarantee anything will go through.”

Because of those concerns, Lippert says a series of meetings will be held so residents can provide feedback.

The city will hold open houses on the draft transportation plan at Paddlewheel Park Hall Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m.; the Vernon Recreation Complex Feb. 18 to 29 from 3 to 6 p.m.; Okanagan Landing Elementary Feb. 20 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.; and the Halina Centre Feb. 23 from 1 to 5 p.m.

“They are full public consultation sessions,” said Leon Gous, chief administrative officer.

There will also be a public input session at city hall March 25 at 5:30 p.m.

“All parties will be able to attend because it will be after normal working hours,” said Lippert.

“They can state their case as to why other options should be done over this one (western bypass).”

Lippert added that once the transportation plan is before council for consideration, there will also be public hearings.

Blue Divider Line

City process hits roadblock
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - February 08, 2008

The City of Vernon’s attempt to garner public input on transportation issues is getting a bumpy ride.

A series of open houses and a public input session will be held on the draft transportation plan, but critics claim it’s not enough.

“This will change the face of Vernon and to rush this through isn’t right,” said Jane Weixl, with the Vernon Taxpayers Association.

Weixl is particularly upset that the March 25 input session will be held as part of a regular council meeting.

“We are talking the middle of the day when no one can attend,” she said.

Weixl also charges that the city is undermining the process by handing out surveys on the plan prior to the input session.

“People will be filling them out without having all of the information,” she said.

The open houses will be at First Baptist Church, 1406 32nd Ave., Feb. 13 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.; Paddlewheel Park Hall Feb. 16 from 1 to 5 p.m.; the Vernon Recreation Complex Feb. 18 to 29 from 3 to 6 p.m.; Okanagan Landing Elementary Feb. 20 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.; and the Halina Centre Feb. 23 from 1 to 5 p.m.

Mayor Wayne Lippert believes the March 25 session will give residents a chance to speak directly to council.

“We want the public to provide good input. If they have solutions, we will look at them,” he said.

While the Vernon Taxpayers Association wants a series of public hearings, Lippert inists that is not the best way for council to truly interact with residents.

“At public hearings, under provincial legislation, council can’t get into a debate but at an input session, we can,” he said.

Information about the draft plan is also available at (link doesn't work anymore), while there will be displays at city hall, the library and the Schubert Centre.

Weixl is upset city staff is recommending the western bypass through Mission Hill, Okanagan Landing and Bella Vista, instead of other possible highway routes.

“I feel that the city should be able to show us an option that fits within our official community plan. The western bypass option flies in the face of our old OCP and the priorities as stressed at the many OCP review public meetings we have just participated in,” she said.

Weixl believes the western bypass has more to do with development than trying to get highway traffic through Vernon.

Other options in the transportation plan include a route through East Vernon and an overhead highway following the railway tracks. Both have been dismissed by city staff as too expensive and impractical.

“We are owed an unbiased presentation of the various options open to us,” said Weixl.

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City plan includes controversial bypass
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - January 30, 2008

A controversial bypass is still on the books in the City of Vernon and that reality is getting a rough ride.

The Western Corridor Impact Assessment Committee is upset council endorsed the draft transportation plan Monday. It includes a long-term strategy to protect the corridor for the bypass which would go through Mission Hill, Okanagan Landing and Bella Vista.

“It’s business as usual,” said Jane Weixl, a committee member, of the city’s previous attempts to promote the bypass.

Weixl is upset that the corridor seems to encourage development.

“I’d like to see it serve the general public and the environment and not development,” she said, adding that businesses will pop up along the route to service motorists.

The committee is concerned the bypass would negatively disrupt existing neighbourhoods, hurt the environment and be costly to acquire the land, construct and maintain.

Weixl also accuses the city of downplaying other options so traffic can move through the community.

“This report does not give the public any information about the alternatives to the bypass,” she said.

City staff recommend that the protection of the bypass occur beyond a 25-year period, although they caution there is no guarantee that construction would proceed.

The positive factors to the route, according to staff, is improving access to the airport and the lake and getting highway traffic out of the downtown core.

“It would be a four-lane freeway with five interchanges,” said Lorne Holowachuk, senior transportation engineer.

Other transportation options were considered, but rejected by staff.

“The western route is the most suitable long-term option in that it minimizes community severance, satisfies mobility and safety concerns, is supported by the land use plan as it connects identified neighbourhood centres and provides opportunities to mitigate adverse impacts due to noise and environmental impacts better than the other alignments,” said a written report from staff.

The western bypass could cost $565 to $635 million to build, and that could pose a challenge.

“I don’t see the province picking up the tab for that,” said Coun. Patrick Nicol.

Mayor Wayne Lippert is hesitant to support the western bypass.

“I believe the best option may be no bypass and to get people out of their vehicles,” he said of alternate transportation such as transit, biking and walking trails.

The draft transportation plan also recommends that 27th Street be extended through Polson Park to Highway 97 over a 10 to 25-year period.

“It will improve city centre traffic circulation,” said Holowachuk of getting some traffic off 32nd Street.

The plan will now go before residents for feedback. A series of open houses will be held from Feb. 11 to 25 and the results of that process will be presented to council March 10.

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Article about the Carbon Tax from

Rural areas hit unfairly

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Road repairs needed - CHBC TV Video
Wednesday, 30 January 2008

The Okanagan's newest community is facing a huge bill for road upgrades. (the new Westside Municipality not North Westside)

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January 8, 2008 snowfall

CHBC News TV story called "Crashes Galore"
It was a very difficult commute Tuesday morning for many Westside motorists.  18 vehicles in the ditch on one road, plus 5 in the ditch up Bear Creek, and 3 in the ditch on Hayman Road = total 26 vehicles in the ditch.

CHBC News TV story called "Treacherous Roads"
Westside called crash hot spot.

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Since January 1, 2004, all municipalities provide the “service” of highways, as they have not only operation and control of most highways within their boundaries, but also ownership of those roads. That provides municipalities with more control over municipal highways (e.g. the authority to close a dead-end road and sell the land to an adjacent land owner without first seeking authority from the provincial government).

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January 9, 2008 another email was sent to Reg Fredrickson regarding the 18 cars in the ditch up Bear Creek as seen on CHBC TV news ... I was wrong it was 18 cars in the ditch on one street, 5 vehicles in the ditch up Bear Creek, and 3 in the ditch on Hayman Road, which totals 26 vehicles in the ditch in one day in Kelowna.

CHBC News TV story called "Crashes Galore"

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Did you know?
Gasoline taxes vary considerably by province. See a chart of fuel taxes across Canada.  We pay more fuel taxes than Alberta, but Alberta has nicer roads. Saskatchewan pays more fuel tax than we do and they have poorer roads.

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In 2005 in British Columbia, 459 people were killed* and 78,000 people** were injured in motor vehicle crashes on our roads.

On a typical day:

There were 695 motor vehicles crashes (THAT'S TOO MANY)
57 vehicles were stolen
87 vehicles were broken into
74 vehicles were vandalized
215 people were injured in crashes — including four cyclists and six pedestrians.
At least one person died.
This means that there was one car crash approximately every two minutes and someone was injured almost every seven minutes

*Police (TAS) Traffic Accident System Data (2005 Fatality Count is not fixed. Fatality data continues to settle over time.)
**ICBC Data


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In January 2008, 68.2% of Canada's total production of crude oil and equivalent hydrocarbons went to the export market.

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If you have comments good or bad, solutions, concerns or complaints regarding the snow on the roads please fill out the form below and/or contact Argo Road Maintenance and/or the Ministry of Transportation.

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If the form below does not work please,

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Vernon Bypass Comment Form

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(If your community is not listed above, please type it in below and choose "other community" above)
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