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West Kelowna  

Peachland bypass studied

A transportation study launched by the province will look at Highway 97 improvements through and around Peachland.

In making the announcement Tuesday, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure says the study will look at both short-term and long-term issues.

The two-year study will focus on Peachland and examine transportation alternatives, including the possibility of an alternative Highway 97 alignment around the municipality.

"We are listening to the people of Peachland, and we want to open it up to public discussion," said Minister Todd Stone. "The study will look into the options that will meet the transportation needs of Peachland, including developing an alternative route, or improving the existing highway."

The study will be carried out in concert with the ministry's Central Okanagan Planning Study, which was launched in the fall of 2014 and already has traffic counts and traffic growth projections to work with.

Peachland Mayor Cindy Fortin said she's encouraged by the announcement.

At the annual Union of British Columbia Municipalities convention, council met with Premier Christy Clark and Stone to discuss the possibility of a bypass study.

"This is wonderful news for Peachland," said Fortin. "We have been anxiously waiting for a definitive study on the Highway 97 corridor though Peachland, so that residents can get some answers regarding a bypass verses four-laning, and so that developers can confidently move forward with their plans."

The study will launch immediately, and public engagement is planned for this spring.

The ministry will also consider input from the Highway 97 Task Force committee, chamber of commerce, local First Nations, environmental stakeholder groups and other groups.

"This is the most important issue affecting the future of Peachland," said Peter Warner, president of the Highway 97 Task Force Society.

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