Westside work drives debate

Upgrades are moving ahead for Westside Road but some residents are not satisfied.

Upgrades are moving ahead for Westside Road but some residents are not satisfied.

The provincial government has announced $4.5 million will be spent on realigning, widening, shouldering and installing barriers along two kilometres, 18 kilometres north of the Kelowna end of the road.

“It’s too little,” said Allastair Fergusson, with the North Westside Ratepayers Association.

Fergusson believes there are other areas of Westside Road that require more attention than the two sites selected.

“There’s one area by LaCasa that’s twisty and broken up and if you meet a logging truck, you have to stop because there’s not room to pass,” he said.

Among the concerns is that development could lead to increased traffic.

“It is a strange coincidence that all of these improvements are coinciding with the application and pending approval for a gravel pit,” said Diane Baldwin, with the ratepayers association.

The association wants more effort to bring all of the road up to a sufficient level to improve safety.

“We realize there’s a cost involved but there’s been a lot of deaths,” said Fergusson.

“If there are constant gravel truck trips, there will be more (fatalities).”

Jim Edgson, regional district director, is satisfied with a staged approach to improvements along the road based on the cost and geographical challenges.

“I am extremely happy. We’ve seen a leap forward in the planning and implementation process,” he said.

“Westside Road is in need of upgrading over the next years and the Ministry of Transportation has a plan in place.”

Edgson also gives the ministry credit for improving communication with residents.

“We have seen a ramp-up in the ministry informing us of their plans,” he said.

The current project will include realignment of 280 metres of narrow two-lane road with two inferior curves and the replacement of a Cinnabar Creek culvert.

Paving is due to be completed by April, with the entire project done by May.

“These projects will make a significant difference for drivers,” said Westside-Kelowna MLA Ben Stewart.

“The demands of a fast-growing community have taken their toll on infrastructure designed for far fewer people. We’ve announced positive and decisive steps to correct that.”