EDITORIAL: Council bypass discussion off course

Despite the talk among council, they ignore an important point and that’s the lack of a viable route.

The word bypass is floating around Vernon council chambers again.

On Monday, city staff presented the draft master transportation plan and immediately, most elected officials were questioning why there was no mention of an alternate route to Highway 97.

“It’s sticking our heads into the sand not to indicate what it may look like,” said Coun. Juliette Cunningham.

“My role as a councillor is to make a long-term decision for the future of my community after I am gone.”

Obviously, there are current challenges with traffic flow on the highway through the community, particularly at key locations like along the Vernon Square mall and at Polson Park.  And the situation will likely only get worse in the years to come as the region’s population grows.

On the surface, diverting traffic off of Highway 97 makes sense. But despite all of the talk among council members, they ignore an important point and that’s the lack of a viable route.

Just as occurred when a bypass was proposed for Mission Hill and Okanagan Landing in 2008, any new proposal will lead to protests from residents who don’t want a major highway going through their neighbourhood.

It should also be pointed out that the city plays a critical role in the lack of bypass options as it keeps approving permits for residential developments that will conflict with motorists.

In the end, the concept of a bypass can be outlined in the transportation plan, but it will only ever be a theory on paper unless current and future politicians are willing to face the wrath of residents.