Re: By­pass Ànds no fans on web

The Daily Courier - - WESTSIDE WEEKLY - Jon Peter Christoff, West Kelowna


Re­al­ize the West­side is at the point where our road sys­tem is chok­ing un­der the weight of our de­vel­op­ment growth. Yes, there are times within a 24-hour day, when our roads are not busy. I’m on the road by 5 a.m.; not ev­ery­one starts their day that early and I’m thank­ful be­cause by 8 a.m. ev­ery­day the roads are get­ting con­gested and stays con­gest un­til evening. The prob­lem with our road sys­tem re­veals it­self when ev­ery­one wants to use it.

When the Christoff fam­ily first moved to Lake­view Heights in 1991, the West­side was the quiet side of Kelowna, with 12,000 peo­ple in to­tal from the bridge to Glen­rosa, in­clud­ing WFN lands. We can also in­clude our 5,000 neigh­bours in Peach­land, who used our West­side roads to get to and from Kelowna.

Our road sys­tem was de­signed to serve the West­side’s slower, ru­ral char­ac­ter. And in some weird twist of fate, that very at­trac­tion is be­com­ing the death knell for our pleas­ant agri­cul­tural com­mu­nity. Things sure be­gan to thicken (den­sity) no­tice­ably by 2010 and has got­ten worse since. We can­not pull up the draw bridge and not let peo­ple come here if they choose.

I re­al­ize these by­pass plans are many years away, but I still thank Christy Clark, our MLA, for at least hear­ing our con­cerns and push­ing work on the plans for­ward and then bring them to a pub­lic open house for dis­cus­sion. We needed to needed to put lines on the map so we could get to this stage and talk about it.

To­day, 26 years af­ter my fam­ily moved here, the pop­u­la­tions of the in­cor­po­rated West­side, now called the city of West Kelowna, is three times as large at 35,000. In ad­di­tion, there is more than 8,000 liv­ing on WFN, which pushes West-side’s to­tal to 45,000, and that doesn’t in­clude Peach­land, whose res­i­dents also use our roads.

How­ever, our road sys­tem de­signed to ser­vice 15,000 peo­ple has vir­tu­ally re­mained un­changed over those years. There are still a lim­ited num­ber of choices to tra­verse our com­mu­nity, only with more peo­ple. Com­bine the poor driv­ing skills of many driv­ers and driv­ing on the West­side is so un­pleas­ant it can en­cour­age peo­ple to chose not to drive, either fore­go­ing or de­lay­ing plans. This in­hibits and re­stricts the com­mu­nity’s eco­nomic health. Some of our ma­jor in­ter­sec­tions dur­ing peak hours be­come a free for all, where right of way favours the bold. And things have only got­ten worse.

So, we need the con­nec­tor and by­pass through the West­side. An im­por­tant, but of­ten ig­nored fact af­fect­ing roads is with the costs of houses be­ing so high, to­day’s Ànan­cial re­al­i­ties re­quire two in­comes to qual­ify for a mort­gage, and that means two jobs and two or more ve­hi­cles per house.

As to who will use the con­nec­tor and by­pass? Well, I know I will. And I can count on both hands an­other 10 who will. For those who live and work here, the new abil­ity to tra­verse the West­side from one end to the other will be an op­por­tu­nity for eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity to breathe bet­ter.

More op­tions cre­ates new im­pe­tus. This new mu­nic­i­pal struc­ture will draw us up the moun­tain. Yes, the cher­ished West­side back coun­try is be­ing pushed fur­ther back. But are we run­ning out of back coun­try? The Con­nec­tor has to be close enough to be ef­fec­tive; if it’s too far away it loses its ef­fec­tive­ness, it must be use­ful to us.

When I was a young school boy grow­ing up in Don Mills, in North York which bor­dered Toronto, ev­ery sum­mer I at­tended Camp Mil­dalaka, in the pris­tine Don Val­ley that ex­tended all the way down along the Don River to Lake On­tario. It was an ad­ven­ture won­der­land that was within walk­ing dis­tance from my home, and for 10 sum­mers I en­joyed fun at camp. Then one year, a huge con­struc­tion project called the Don Val­ley Park­way came through. And with it came great con­ster­na­tion. But in the end, the big change ev­ery­one feared turned out to be the best kind of changes that changed the face of Toronto.

Camp Mil­dalaka still pro­vided fun ev­ery sum­mer, ex­cept fur­ther north. We got use to it, things do change.

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