Vernon byelection candidates sound off on need for a Vernon highway bypass

A bypass for Vernon?

Castanet asked candidates in Vernon's council byelection to tell us their position on a number of issues.

Today, the candidates give their opinions on the long-discussed matter of a highway bypass for Vernon.

Voters go to the polls Dec. 4.

Teresa Durning

Although a highway bypass would be good for Vernon in allowing the downtown core to be improved in multiple ways, including reducing air pollution, noise and improved use of space, there are a couple of critical things that would make me say no to a bypass right now. The negative economic impact a bypass would have on highway businesses and the highway being controlled by the Ministry of Transportation. Vernon has a voice but no control over where the highway runs. I would say no unless we had a majority of impacted businesses in favour and a convincing plan from the MOT.

Flora Evans

Traffic in Vernon is not like traffic in Kelowna. I don’t see a need for a bypass. I don’t like the big trucks going through town either, but you can’t just make a bypass for big trucks. If other traffic circumvents Vernon’s downtown and other shopping areas, it will mean reduced retail activity. I don’t think struggling businesses want that right now.

Sherrilee Franks

I support the process of planning for a bypass. Although when I'm stuck in traffic I wish for a bypass, as a business owner and as someone working in tourism, a bypass could have a very negative impact. I agree that something needs to be done and planning for a bypass now will ensure those negative impacts are mitigated or avoided. I support the idea of a bypass. Past councils have started this process, and I would be happy to carry this research and planning forward.

Art Gourley

I don't know if we need a bypass, but I would like to see some roads changed to one-way streets – like 27th and 32nd streets. We could have one lane for trucks and buses. They were going to try that in the 1980s, but it didn't happen. That was before my time here in Vernon. I moved here in 2006 and haven't seen any changes from any mayor or council.

Stephanie Hendy

No, we do not need a highway bypass for Vernon. A highway bypass would increase vehicle traffic through the city. The construction required would be disruptive to the existing city traffic and infrastructure, it would destroy the environment by encouraging more vehicle use, and it would decrease access to surrounding businesses.

Catherine Lord

In my opinion, this is a no. A number of years ago this was a hot topic, and an actual route was scouted. The bypass would have left Highway 97 somewhere near the college, gone over the commonage towards the airport, and then over Bella Vista and the range down to Swan Lake. This never got to the design stage. I think a bypass at this stage of Vernon’s growth is not yet warranted, and would certainly have a negative effect on our downtown merchants.

Jamie Morrow

The City of Vernon 25 Year Master Transportation Plan does not include a bypass. It includes a plan for internal specific improvements over the life of the plan I agree with this as I do not support a bypass for Vernon

Erik Olesen

In 2018, when I ran for mayor, we were asked about a bypass for Vernon. Years ago, Vernon considered and looked at options for a bypass but concluded not to move forward. In 2018, after talking with local businesses and the community, there were concerns that a bypass in Vernon would cause local businesses downtown to take a substantial hit. Currently, looking at the geographic layout of Vernon and how our communities are spread out, I do not see myself supporting a bypass through Vernon at this time. I think we need to protect the greenspace we are lucky to have here in Vernon and keep to the community character.

Ed Stranks

I have been involved in several highway bypass reviews by the city. It is up to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to determine if this is needed. To my knowledge, they have not supported this to date. I do support securing transportation corridors as a condition of greenfield development. These corridors would be used to enhance the trail networks and provide emergency access routes to lands in the city. If necessary in future, some of these could be used by the ministry for a highway if deemed necessary at that time, subject to trails being retained there.

Andy Wylie

The highway bypass has been talked about since I first moved here in 1990, and still no solution. This is a nice idea, but really is it possible? Need to study this one, sorry.

Kevin Demers

No to a bypass. Affordable housing is our city's greatest concern. Being funnelled in the valley, a bypass would take up a great deal of area that would otherwise be used in community housing developments. We are better to use a fraction of the resources, further develop the 97 corridor utilizing an analysis of traffic patterns, adding turning lanes and timed traffic lights that better maintain a steady flow through the city.

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