There was a lot of celebrating Friday as the new four-lane highway between Oyama and Winfield officially opened.
And rightly so as the project will significantly increase the safety of the travelling public, both locals and visitors.
Certainly, government officials were all smiles and enjoying their role as the initiative came to full fruition. And that is expected as ultimately their actions resulted in construction not only being announced, but proceeding over the last two years.
But most of the praise should be directed towards the community itself — the residents of Oyama and Winfield.
Fed up with the rising death toll along the old highway at Wood Lake and the closures that forced traffic on to other routes, residents took their fight to the powers-that-be. There were meetings, letters, e-mails and phone calls.
And even when it looked like Victoria was sitting on its hands, the residents didn’t give up.
Joining them in this campaign were a number of organizations, including the Lake Country Chamber of Commerce, the Oyama Community Club and past and current members of Lake Country council and municipal staff. Special recognition goes to former councillor Noreen Guenther, who was relentless in her efforts, even handing provincial officials jars of Traffic Jam to make a point.
Surrounding communities like Vernon also got on board.
The new highway is a tremendous asset to the entire Okanagan and there’s no question that safety will be improved.
Our hats are off to everyone who made this possible.