About 100 people recently gathered to protest the extension of Stickle Road through a wetland. (Morning Star photo)

Stickle Road project on track

Protests aren’t stopping a Vernon highway project from proceeding.

Starting Tuesday, preload construction will begin for the extension of Stickle Road to 20th Street.

“The ministry remains committed to improving safety along that (Highway 97) corridor. We’re still moving ahead,” said Steve Sirett, associate district manager with the Ministry of Transportation.

Recently, about 100 people gathered against the road extension through BX Creek Delta Park, behind Rona. The protesters claim the road will negatively impact the wetland and species at risk.

“A comprehensive environmental management plan has been completed and all necessary environmental approvals are in place. Mitigative and offsetting measures will include re-vegetation and erosion control, building new wetland habitat and having an environmental monitor on site when work is being done in sensitive areas,” states a ministry release.

The preload could be in place for up to two years.

“Once the ground is settled enough, construction can take place,” said Sirett.

While the preload is in place, the existing boardwalk off of 20th Street will be closed and replaced with a temporary gravel path to maintain public access.

Along with this, the ministry will initiate a tender for works at Highway 97 and Stickle Road either this fall or spring. This component of the project will include restricting left-turns from Stickle on to the highway, but a timeline for the work is not determined yet.

Eric Foster, Vernon-Monashee MLA, continues to insist the Stickle extension is the best way to improve safety.

“I’ve had two or three letters from people (in opposition) but I’ve also had letters from people saying to stay the course,” he said.