Tourist traffic in one Okanagan community has come to a screeching halt.
Before Saturday, about 50 people a day would stop in at the visitor information centre in Oyama.
On Saturday, not one person showed up.
"We went from 45-55 visitors a day at the tourist both, to zero, with a bullet," Ingrid Gatzke of Gatzke Orchards said Monday.
The reason for the hard brake on tourist traffic, she says, is the opening Friday afternoon of a new four-lane stretch of Highway 97 that essentially bypasses Oyama.
There aren't even any road signs on the new section of Highway that identify Oyama, which is an unincorporated part of the District of Lake Country located between Wood and Kalmalka Lakes.
As a result, even some travellers who were specifically trying to find Oyama missed the turnoff - which is signed as Pelmewash Parkway - and wound up in Winfield.
"There was a couple from Edmonton who've been to our farm many times and were headed here again on Saturday. They didn't know Pelmewash Parkway was the turnoff for Oyama, so they went right on by," Gatzke said.
"Fortunately for us, after they got to Winfield, they came back up here," she said. "But there's no way of knowing how many other people went straight through, even if they did want to visit Oyama."
Owen Dickie, who represents Oyama on the Lake Country town council, says discussions have taken place with the Ministry of Transportation about the lack of signage directing visitors to the community.
"Some of the agreed-to signage wasn't up in time for the highway's opening," he said. "My understanding is those signs will begin to go up later this week."
There aren't many businesses in Oyama, a mostly farming and residential community, that rely in large part on passing tourist traffic. But for the Gatzke's and the 10 people who work at their farm, the initial sharp drop-off in people seeking visitor information is concerning.
Since the late '80s, the Gatzke's have diversified their farm's income stream, opening other roadside businesses, organizing concerts, and booking weddings in their orchard.
Gatzke believes repeat customers will still find their way to the farm, when Oyama-related signage is put up on the highway. And the elimination of noise from nearby highway traffic has made the orchard an even more inviting spot for weddings and concerts, she says.
Also maintaining an optimistic outlook is Cory Holland, owner of the Oyama General Store, located on the isthmus between the two lakes.
"We're always busy at this time of year, and we were again on Saturday. We even saw a lot of new faces in here," Holland said.
"Actually, I think the new highway is going to be really good advertising for Oyama and help to draw more people here," he said.
Some Oyama residents expect their house values will increase if their neighborhood is one where highway traffic is no longer heard. Chris Docksteader, a realtor, says many streets are quieter.
"There's no question the properties have benefited with a reduction in noise, but how that will translate into real dollars, we just don't know yet," Docksteader said.