Oyama businesses earn highway recognition

Ministry of Transportation has agreed to install signs that direct motorists on the new Highway 97 to Oyama Road

Oyama businesses are declaring victory.

The Ministry of Transportation has agreed to install signs that direct motorists on the new Highway 97 to Oyama Road.

“All of a sudden, the policies that precluded a sign suddenly fit,” said Al Gatzke, with Gatzke Orchards.

Signs will also highlight Lake Country’s tourist information centre at Gatzke Orchards.

When the new, upper-level highway opened Aug. 16, activity dropped at businesses along the old highway because there were no signs pointing to Oyama Road or Oyama itself.

The ministry had stated that individual areas within municipalities  cannot be recognized on highway signs. In this case, Oyama is part of the District of Lake Country.

However, Gatzke and others made the case that many people identify the businesses with Oyama and a lack of signage was creating confusion.

Gatzke is pleased that signs will identify Oyama Road.

“It feels good and they have addressed all of my concerns,” he said.

“There still won’t be an Oyama (community) sign but I hope they won’t object to the community putting up a sign.”

Gatzke believes the ministry was forced to change its policies because of media attention on the negative impact on business.

The Morning Star was the first ones in and the story took off,” he said, adding that there was also considerable support from Coun. Owen Dickie, Mayor James Baker, MLA Norm Letnick and MP Ron Cannan.