Re: Bypass Ànds no fans on web
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.