Vernon council reconsiders bypass

Vernon council has done a roundabout on adding a western bypass to its 25-year transportation plan

Vernon council has done a roundabout on adding a western bypass to its 25-year transportation plan.

At its regular meeting in July, council voted 4-3 to add the site-specific bypass to the master transportation plan. But immediately after that meeting, Coun. Dalvir Nahal – who voted in favour of adding the bypass – asked for a reconsideration of the motion at its next meeting, which was Monday afternoon.

After considerable discussion Monday, council voted 5-2 to not include the site-specific western bypass in the plan (Couns. Bob Spiers and Scott Anderson opposed).

A future bypass option with no specific site does remain part of the master plan, and council authorized the mayor to request assurance from the ministry of transportation and infrastructure that it will include bypass consideration in future regional transportation plans.

“Until we get anything from the province confirming that’s what we’re going to do, why are we going to put restrictions on property owners?” said Nahal. “It doesn’t make any sense.”

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.

Coun. Scott Anderson voted in opposition to the motion reconsideration, saying the city should be pushing the ministry of transportation to plan a bypass now.

“Downtown during peak months is a mess,” said Anderson. “I think the time is sooner rather than later to be looking at this. There’s no sense of urgency.”

Coun. Brian Quiring acknowledged that a bypass is something the city will have to look at, but said there are other issues to deal with in the short-term, like Birnie and Stickle roads, that could help kick-start how traffic moves through the community.

“It’s a little too far out on a horizon to be as prescriptive as we were (about the bypass),” said Quiring. “But not so far out on a horizon that we shouldn’t at least have some consideration for it.”

Nahal didn’t disagree that a bypass is an issue the city needs to consider.

“Saying these specific properties, this is where we want to put it through, without having any confirmation from the province, is not fair to the property owners,” she said.