Petitions are a dime a dozen, but $500,000 funding announcements generated by them are far more rare.
Kim Denis beat the odds with the signature-collecting efforts she undertook to get a new path built alongside Lakehill Road in Kaleden to help improve pedestrian safety there.
The two-kilometre trail will eventually stretch from Highway 97 down to Ponderosa Avenue at Skaha Lake.
The project cost will be split equally between the B.C. government and the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen through its share of federal gas tax revenue.
Denis submitted her petitions, with a total of about 400 signatures, to the province and RDOS in spring 2013. On Friday, she participated in the project’s official groundbreaking.
“I think it was just great timing,” Denis said of the petitions, which she believes landed at the beginning of a renewal period for the community’s infrastructure.
Transportation Minister Todd Stone said after the announcement that such efforts do still have the ability to get the ear of government.
“When the community bands together and makes it pretty darn clear this wasn’t just a certain group in the community, it was very widespread support for a project, that carries a lot of weight,” he said.
Tom Siddon, the RDOS director for the area, said final engineering of the new asphalt pathway is underway and construction should begin “within the autumn period.”
“When this first phase is done, we want to extend a side branch right over to the school,” he added, “so that the kids have a safer way with their moms or dads to get back and forth.”
Siddon took the minister on a drive through the community to see what else needs work, including Lakehill Road itself.
“It would appear there’s a case for some focus on repaving and fixing the road, so that will certainly be something we’ll take a look at, but there’s no imminent plans to do anything with the road at this point,” Stone said.
“We’re going to get the multi-use path done first, and the regional district has said they’ll be knocking on my door shortly thereafter to talk about the general condition of the road.”
Earlier in the week, the minister announced increased speed limits on many Southern Interior roads, but not along Highway 97 south of Penticton, where the maximum is set at 80 km/h.
Stone said Friday the corridor “was looked at, for certain,” but the recommended increases “were all based on the safety and technical analysis that our engineers did.
“So when they look at the volume of traffic through here, the access, the multitude of access points, their determination, strictly from a safety perspective, was that the safest speed limit through this section of Highway 97 is the current speed limit.”