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Gallagher Lake residents voice concerns

Around 35 Gallagher Lake residents and business people packed the pub in the small community Monday to address several concerns.

The main reason for the meeting at the Ye Olde Welcome Inn was that they currently see no light at the end of the tunnel related to safety and other issues they face, say organizers.

"We want to form a group of concerned citizens to make this a safer place," said organizer Scot Hutchinson of Route 97 Motorcycle Tours and Sales. "And this meeting is for us to come up with a plan of attack."

The issues that worry them most are the design of the new passing lanes on Highway 97 (north of the small community), lack of signage, disruption to businesses during construction on Gallagher Lake Frontage Road, septic systems vs sewer system and removal of some access to the frontage road

Highway safety is  high on the list, in the community north of Oliver, because there is currently no safe crossing for the people who live there and tourists.

No lights, pedestrian controlled crosswalk and speed limit also present a danger, with a woman dying trying to cross the highway at Gallagher Lake's one intersection in February.

Currently the expanded lanes north of the bridge make for higher speeds coming in from the north to the restriction of the bridge, after which speed increases.

"The safety of residents who live in this area is number one," said Hutchinson. "How do you get across a highway where they have increased the speed."

Several business owners in attendance said they were extremely upset with the way construction work on the frontage road was handled in September.

"They gave no one any indication they were going to rip up the frontage road, which started in September and went on for two months," said Hutchinson.  "Every business was affected during construction. We watched them rip up two entrances and put a deep ditch in the area."

There is now only one access point to the frontage road lined with businesses, which is difficult for larger and emergency vehicles to get into, say residents.

Particularly hit hard during construction was the Pine Bluff Motel, with fewer people staying due to the construction. and the pub.

"Had I known how bad it was going to be, I would have shut down during that period and paid my staff," said owner Dale Hyworon.

RDOS rural Oliver director Allan Patton has met previously with the residents.

He said last week all of their concerns are valid and that he will assist them in contacting MLA Linda Larson and the government when the Official Community Plan is done for the area.

And ultimately the work on the frontage road will be to the advantage of residents and businesses, he said.

The group is planning a bigger meeting for 11 a.m. next Monday at the same location with representatives from the RDOS, the Ministry of Transportation and the RCMP.

"They are making it worse for us, so we want to do this as soon as possible," said Hutchinson.






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