West Kelowna  

Hwy bypass plan still far off

Two-and-a-half years into planning, and it will likely be another year-and-a-half before the province decides whether to build a bypass around Peachland.

Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure district manager Steve Sirett gave that answer when asked by Penticton Mayor Andrew Jakubeit, during Thursday's Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen board meeting.

Sirett said the province plans to either build a bypass or improve Highway 97 through the municipality.

He said work is currently being done to identify a preferred option for both scenarios.

"The current phase is expected to be wrapped up later this summer. Then this fall we’re going right into the next phase of the study, which is choosing between the two," Sirett told the RDOS board.

He noted the next phase will take about a year, "because there is going to be some fairly significant public engagement along with that, because it is a hot topic for folks in Peachland about which way to go.”

It's unclear how soon construction would begin once a project is decided on, Sirett added.

Peachland council had asked in the fall of 2015 for the province to study the possibility of a bypass. MOTI began a two-year study in December of that year to look into all possible options.

In November of 2016, MOTI shared five options for a bypass during a public open house, as well as a series of options to upgrade the existing highway. All of the bypass options presented were said to raise environmental concerns.

No cost estimate has been provided on any potential highway upgrade through the area.

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