Bypass suggestion resurfaces at city hall

Vernon council wants a reference of a highway bypass to the draft master transportation plan.

Vernon politicians insist a bypass must be on the radar to ease long-term congestion.

Council members urged staff Monday to add reference of a highway bypass to the draft master transportation plan.

“We live in a community severed by a highway. It’s killing us in terms of economic development,” said Coun. Brian Quiring.

However, staff say a bypass was not included in the document because traffic modelling doesn’t show a need for such a system until after 2050.

“A bypass is not necessarily an economic benefit. They can have a negative impact because people no longer stop in the city,” said Amanda Watson, municipal transportation technician.

Coun. Catherine Lord, though, says the city must be prepared for future vehicle demands.

“It’s really more about having it talked about than it being off to the side,” she said.

In 2008, elected officials of the day shelved the concept of a bypass through Mission Hill and Okanagan Landing because of widespread public opposition.

Coun. Juliette Cunningham called for a route to be considered then and she believes a process must still be established.

“My role as a councillor is to make a long-term decision for the future of my community after I am gone,” she said.

The draft transportation plan covers a variety of issues, including trying to get more people to abandon their vehicles and walk, cycle or use transit.

Coun. Scott Anderson says the city shouldn’t be too heavy-handed with its policies.

“When the stick approach comes, I’m uncomfortable with it,” he said.

Watson says the city’s goal is providing education about transportation options.

“We are not taking a carrot and stick approach. In terms of telling people what to do, we don’t do that,” she said.

Cunningham also responded to Anderson’s comments.

“Some of us do believe in climate change and anything we can do to reduce carbon emissions, is part of the plan,” she said.

The draft transportation plan will go before city committees and the public for input.