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Business owners complain about highway improvements near Oliver
A business owner in Gallagher Lake is hosting a public meeting Monday to help galvanize community concerns related to recent infrastructure improvements in the area.
Scot Hutchinson of Route 97 Motorcycle Tours and Sales said he shut down the business this fall when work associated with a highway widening project chased away his customers and damaged some of the vehicles he had for sale.
He feels his concerns have fallen on deaf ears when he’s raised them with the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen and the B.C. Transportation Ministry.
“We don’t think that they’re treating us very well,” said Hutchinson.
In particular, he said this fall’s 1.5-kilometre four-laning project near McIntyre Bluff just north of Gallagher Lake has increased speeds on Highway 97.
“Since they’ve twinned it, we’ve got traffic flying over the bridge and through Gallagher Lake now. It’s become unsafe and they’ve done nothing about it,” he said.
In addition, he said some signage was removed that warned motorists to slow down through the community, and no improvements were made to the intersection at which people cross the highway from the Gallagher Lake Resort.
“We want them to fix the intersection. We want lights put up,” said Hutchinson, who noted a female pedestrian died in February when she was struck by a vehicle while crossing the highway there.
Hutchinson’s hoping Monday’s gathering at 11 a.m. at the Ye Olde Welcome Inn Pub will bring forward other concerns people in the area may have.
Pub owner Dale Hyworon said he’s still upset about the hit his business took for three weeks beginning at the end of September when the road in front of his establishment was torn up to allow for the installation of new sewer and water lines.
“Had I known it was going to be so bad, I would have paid all the staff to stay home and kept the place closed and would have lost less money,” he said.
Allan Patton, the RDOS director for the area, said he’s met with Gallagher Lake residents and business owners and is aware of their grievances.
He agreed the highway work needs a few finishing touches, particularly improved access to and from the frontage road where the pub is located.
Patton expects to get underway early next year on an Official Community Plan for the area, a process that will help him prioritize people’s concerns.
And once he hears their case, “I’ll take it up with the force of the residents behind me,” Patton said.