The Stickle Road/ Highway 97 intersection has deservedly been in the news the last week or two, as it has been for more than 20 years or more. As an owner of R-Xtra Storage Centre, our staff, customers and all of the other businesses, plus numerous residents in the Swan Lake area, see on a daily basis the hazard of this intersection. There have been numerous accidents and four deaths according to what I have read in the paper the last week.
We need a solution and we need it soon. It is decidedly difficult in the dark hours of winter to effect a safe left-turn on to Highway 97 from Stickle Road. Traffic is travelling well in excess of the posted 90 kilometres an hour, and it is difficult to judge which lane traffic is in, heading south bound while you are waiting to turn left, especially when you are staring into the headlights.
We found out Monday that the Ministry of Transportation will have an open house this Thursday at the Prestige Inn to present its solution to this intersection.
However, its solution is to close all left-turns on to Highway 97 from Stickle Road. The ministry wants to direct traffic southbound along the residential Pleasant Valley Road and push the traffic, including trucks and semi-trailers, to navigate through town to get back on to the highway, or anywhere else in downtown Vernon. People don’t want to go around this circuitous route; they want to turn left safely at the intersection. If MoT prevents left hand-turns, customers will not come, because of the loss of convenience. If customers stop driving to the auto mile, businesses will suffer a significant loss of revenue. This is not what businesses, employees or what our thousands of customers need. What the area needs is a functioning, fully signalled intersection with sensors, so traffic is stopped on Highway 97 only when someone needs to do a left-turn. This is a common sense, viable solution for all.
There are more than 25 businesses in the Swan Lake auto mile. Combined, we pay several hundreds of thousands of dollars in property taxes each year. The businesses employ several dozens of families that depend on the businesses. Combined, the businesses have several thousands of customers who need a safe way to return south-bound along Highway 97. We need better access and a safe intersection, not another road block thrown in our way.
We need a solution, but punishing businesses is not only wrong, it sends the wrong signal. That wrong signal is that business doesn’t matter. A fully signalled intersection would attract more business to this important commercial area. As well, customers would feel much safer coming to this area.
Please, other business owners, customers, and concerned citizens, come to the open house at the Prestige Hotel Thursday between 4 and 8 p.m. and give MOTI a clear message. Our employees, our customers and the businesses need a fully signalled intersection. Anything less is not an option.
R-Xtra Storage Centre