Hwy closure hard on locals

Chelsea Powrie

Businesses in Penticton are feeling the pinch after a lengthy closure of Highway 97 near Summerland and ongoing restrictions on large trucks using the Callan Road detour. 

"It's almost like we've had a snow day for the last two weeks because the road has slid and nobody knows what to do," said Penticton and Wine Country Chamber of Commerce board director Daryl Clarke. 

Trucks over 3.8 metres in width can only use the Callan Road detour around the rockslide site from midnight to 5 a.m. Otherwise, they are forced to use far longer service road detours.

This inconvenience combined with over a week of full closure on the highway has been a headache for local businesses, and a huge cost.

"Everything that comes to Penticton comes in a truck, and unfortunately when they stop those trucks they stop commerce and trade, the stores can't restock, we can't ship our products, it's a problem," Clarke said. 

He said during the shut down, one member of the chamber had to house 27 workers in town because they could not get home.

Other businesses struggled with staff shortages, since so many workers commuted from up the valley.

"It's causing huge issues for everything that happens here in town," Clarke said. 

In response, the chamber is urging people to shop locally, to help alleviate some of the financial stress put on these businesses. They are promoting a "Penticton First" campaign through social media. 

"The Penticton First campaign is trying to promote Penticton businesses in times like this, when things are hard," Clarke said. "This summer we had smoke, right now we have road closures. We need to promote it, we need to enjoy it, to make all of us prosper here."

Using #PentictonFirst on social media posts about shopping locally will enter participants in a draw for a prize pack in April, including a free weekend getaway at Chute Lake Lodge. 

More Penticton News