Hotel pushes for options to keep guests coming

Attempts to improve highway safety have been driving business away from a local hotel

Attempts to improve highway safety have been driving business away from a local hotel.

The Best Western Vernon Lodge has been impacted by the Ministry of Transportation installing a median on 32nd Street, meaning northbound traffic can no longer turn off Highway 97 and into the hotel.

“It really restricts our guests from getting to us. They see the big sign but they can’t turn off the highway,” said Claus Larsen, Best Western Vernon Lodge general manager.

Instead of turning around and finding other ways to the Lodge, some visitors are going to other hotels with more direct access.

Walk-in guests can lead to five to 20 rooms a night being filled.

“If we lose one room a night, that equates to $3,000 a month, and that’s a very low number,” said  Larsen, adding that the hotel has 130 employees.

Larsen says he supports the median’s goal to ensure traffic safety so he is looking at options, including signage that notifies motorists in advance of how to get to the Lodge,

“We need people to find us. I am hopeful the city will work with us,” he said.

Larsen would also like to see a left-turn signal at the intersection of 32nd Street and 39th Avenue so motorists can get off the highway more efficiently.

Coun. Mary-Jo O’Keefe wants the city’s bylaws adjusted so off-premises signs direct motorists to the Lodge.

“We need to be proactive to help business,” she said.

Access management is one of the tools the ministry and the city have used to keep traffic moving more efficiently on Highway 97.

“Access management restricts left-turn movements into minor side streets and properties along a corridor by the construction of either a centre median or raised right-in, right-out islands in the side street or property driveways, but permits left turns at purpose built intersections,” states a staff report.

City staff support the installation of the median.

“Due to the road safety benefits of the recent left-turn restrictions, staff do not recommend supporting the Best Western’s request to have the median removed or their access relocated,” states an administration report to council.

Another issue that O’Keefe wants to see addressed is the lack of left-turn signals at highway intersections.

“If the ministry won’t put in left-turn signals, at what point do we consider doing it ourselves?” she said.