Plan may get bypassed

A U-turn could be pulled on a controversial Vernon highway route

A U-turn could be pulled on a controversial Vernon highway route.

Coun. Dalvir Nahal was among four council members to vote Monday to add the western bypass to the 25-year master transportation plan. However, by the end of the day, she was putting staff on notice that she will ask her colleagues to reconsider the matter Aug. 10.

“I thought about it and it’s something that may or may not happen so it’s not fair to restrict people’s property,” said Nahal of the reason for her sudden turn-about.

If council agrees to reconsider the issue, it’s possible the previous 4-3 vote in favour of including the bypass in the plan could be overturned based on Nahal’s changed vote.

The western bypass extends from Mission Hill through Okanagan Landing to Swan Lake and would replace 32nd Street as the main highway route in Vernon. A previous council scrapped the concept in 2008 after significant public opposition.

On Monday, city staff called for a bypass to be referenced in the transportation plan but it wasn’t site specific and that concerned some politicians.

“Simply referencing it is almost throwing it away if we don’t have some details. My intent is to make it more specific,” said Coun. Scott Anderson.

Coun. Bob Spiers, who also voted for the western bypass with Coun. Brian Quiring, insists a potential corridor for a bypass must be protected if traffic demands grow long-term.

“If it never happens, we will have a nice trail or a local road,” said Spiers.

However, staff warned that pinpointing a specific route for a possible bypass could negatively impact the ability of property owners to develop their land.

“We will be damaging people’s property values,” said Coun. Catherine Lord.

Also opposing the naming of the western bypass were Mayor Akbal Mund and Coun. Juliette Cunningham.

“I’m concerned that by identifying it, we may sterilize people’s property before we need to,” said Cunningham.