Editorial: Connecting us all

It’s time to start work on a secondary Okanagan highway

We didn’t really need another reminder, but the rock slide that closed Highway 97 shows just how much we need another connection between the Central and South Okanagan.

Yes, there is the 201 Forest Service Road route, but some 70 kilometres of gravel road is not something anyone looks forward to, especially in the middle of a deep freeze, no matter how well-maintained it is.

These closures of the highway are rare, but they aren’t the only reason a paved alternate route is needed. The population of the B.C. Interior is growing, especially in the Okanagan, as people look for properties outside the overpriced Lower Mainland housing market.

It’s a situation that can only continue to grow with seniors look for retirement properties, young families search for their first home, or even vacation condos; people will continue to look to the Interior.

Paving the 201 and bringing it up to highway standards is going to be costly — that is all the more reason to get started on it now. No one expects a highway to be built overnight, but laying out a plan to improve it year by year, section by section, could bring us an alternate highway in a couple of decades when the population of the Interior is an order of magnitude greater.

If the province waits 20 years until the need is desperate, it’s only going to cost more and still take years to build.

There’s also commerce to consider. The current closure is delaying shipping of all kind, as well as slowing, if not stopping, people from getting to jobs and shopping in other communities.

A second connection would fix that problem, but it would also connect other communities to the economic and tourism network — helping all our communities continue to grow.

In the meantime, a good start to improving the 201 route would be the installation of new and clear directional signs to guide drivers as they commute.

Just Posted

Motorcyclist medevaced to Kelowna after collision with deer near Apex Mountain Resort

Male suffered serious but not life-threatening injuries to his neck

PHOTOS: What makes a winning Caesar?

Three local bartenders competed to make the best Caesar in Penticton

Penticton Legion’s grand reopening a success, says president

17 new members have signed up since the reopening Aug. 1

Festival goers at the 27th annual Roots and Blues Festival

The Observer asked: Where are you from and what brought you to the festival?

OHA alumna welcomed as new assistant coach for women’s varsity team

Alyssa MacMillan attended OHA from 2011 to 2016

70 years of lifting: Canadian man, 85, could cinch weightlifting championship

The senior gym junkie is on track to win the World Masters Weightlifting championship

U16 B.C. fastpitch team named national champs

Girls went undefeated at national tournament in Calgary

Summerland’s downtown has gone through numerous changes

Main Street has been commercial hub of community for many years

Advocates ‘internationalize’ the fight to free Raif Badawi from Saudi prison

Raif Badawi was arrested on June 17, 2012, and was later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his online criticism of Saudi clerics

Okanagan climate advocacy group protests against Tolko

Group to demonstrate outside Vernon head office Monday over plan to log close to water supply

Okanagan Cultural Connections live venue tour kicks off in Vernon

Two dozen promoters, national booking agents, and music reps to visit venues from Vernon to Oliver

Most Read