Foothills wants in

Writers support the need for alternative transportation from Foothills to the rest of Vernon, keeping in mind financial costs and benefits

A recent article in The Morning Star discussing transit demand in Vernon referred to a “significant demand” from Foothillers for access to transit. This letter, also addressed to our new mayor and council, discusses that issue and the larger one of how Foothills does or does not fit into the City of Vernon.

As co-founders of the Foothills Community Association, the writers support the need for alternative transportation from Foothills to the rest of Vernon, while acknowledging that financial costs and benefits always must be taken into account.

We would also like to point out that we, as a community, are quite willing to engage with city transportation demand management as it applies to Foothills and more generally with staff and our political leaders in respect to how Foothillers can be better integrated into Vernon.

It is our considered judgement that in the past, Foothills has at times suffered from a form of benign neglect as one of a few outlying subdivisions that, while within the City of Vernon, are sometimes forgotten or simply taken for granted by city hall. For instance, we laud the vision set out in Vernon’s official community plan, but we in Foothills have seen nothing that might enable our subdivision to facilitate the first two goals listed in the transportation section of the OCP, which are to, “Improve the livability of our community by increasing the use of alternative transportation modes, including, but not limited to, public transit, cycling, and walking” and, “Increase community awareness and use of alternative modes of transportation.” There is no option for Foothillers other than to drive to town – no bus service, no bicycle path, no way to walk even (walking or cycling on Silver Star Road can be quite unsafe, particularly just below Foothills). Silver Star Road is the only route from Foothills to the city centre, and its somewhat circuitous route means that it is some 60 per cent further than a direct route from Foothills to the Anderson Way shopping area. Nor is Silver Star Road a particularly safe route, as we tragically witnessed just a few months ago with the death of a young man there.

The Foothills Community Association is presently engaged with city staff on the Foothills neighbourhood plan, which is in its initial stages of development, and through which we hope to be able to address some of these concerns. But at the same time, we wish to bring to the attention of The Morning Star’s readership and our political leaders the need to consider the optimal integration of all of the City of Vernon, if not all of Greater Vernon, including Foothills, when plans and visions are developed. Please don’t forget about us.

Wynn Polnicky

Kees Versfeld

Co-Founders, Foothills Community Association