A crew from George’s Gradall Service rips up weeds and dead vegetation Monday as part of landscaping improvements to Highway 97 at Stickle Road. The project is being  led by Bob Fleming

A crew from George’s Gradall Service rips up weeds and dead vegetation Monday as part of landscaping improvements to Highway 97 at Stickle Road. The project is being led by Bob Fleming

Swan Lake beautification proceeds

BX-Swan Lake director Bob Fleming launched a project to improve landscaping on the east side of Highway 97.

A local official says beautification of the Swan Lake corridor is in direct response to constituents’ concerns.

BX-Swan Lake director Bob Fleming launched a project Monday to improve landscaping on the east side of Highway 97 between Mike Rosman RV and Art Knapp Plantland.

“It’s a horrible mess coming into Vernon and my electoral area,” he said of dead plants and weeds.

Fleming decided to act after hearing from Stickle Road businesses.

“The businesses have been cutting grass and hacking at dead trees because it’s not being done,” he said.

“These are some of the largest taxpayers in Area B and they were being under-served.”

Landscaping has been deteriorating ever since the Ministry of Transportation ended maintenance as part of budget cuts a number of years ago.

Previous directors have refused to look after landscaping, saying it’s a provincial highway and local taxpayers should not be downloaded on. But Fleming disagrees with that position.

“Local jurisdictions have been after them for years and they have refused so do you want the entrance to the community to look like that? I don’t.”

The ministry was asked to provide funding as part of the $25,000 project, which is expected to take about a week to complete.

“They were not in a position to contribute,” said Fleming of the ministry response.

“This year’s improvement fund with the ministry is diverted to the Highway 6 (realignment) project.”

Much of the budget for the landscaping work is coming from businesses donating money, labour or supplies. BX-Swan Lake taxpayers will contribute up to $7,500.

Landscaping will include decorative rock and grass and a low-volume irrigation system.

“My design is to reflect what was done down the middle of the highway,” said Fleming.

The centre median along the highway was upgraded in 2009 through the efforts of Swan Lake Nurseryland and the City of Vernon.

Fleming hopes to upgrade the west side of the highway next year.