A group long campaigning for a bypass around Peachland is neutral on the two alternative highway routes now being reviewed by the provincial government.
“We’re not taking a position on he superiority of one bypass option over the other,” Highway 97 Task Force society president Gus Richardson said Wednesday.
In part, he said, that was because there are many conflicting views among the group’s 850 members, a size which makes it the largest civic organization by far in the town of 5,300 people.
What the group remains adamantly opposed to is the third option under consideration —widening the existing two-lane stretch of Highway 97 that runs through Peachland to four lanes.
“What a disaster that would be for Peachland,” resident Roger Williamson said at a transportation options meeting hosted by the society.
“Everything that makes Peachland unique would be lost by having a new, major highway close to the lakeshore,” Williamson said.
The Ministry of Transportation considered several bypass routes but decided only two were feasible because of cost, construction complexity, and the ability to lure thru-traffic away from the town.
Peachland town councillors have already opposed the two bypass options. They want the ministry to revisit alignments that skirt further into Crown land and thus affect fewer private properties.
That was a sentiment echoed by Ted Cave, a longtime task force member.
“I’m disappointed that none of the other bypass options were to the ministry’s liking,” Cave said.
The purpose of Wednesday’s meeting, which was not attended by ministry officials, was to let Peachlanders once again make their views known on the town’s transportation options.
Community sentiment appears to favour a bypass, but a smaller group says it makes the most economic and environmental sense to simply widen the existing highway.
The ministry is expected to make a formal recommendation this fall or early in 2020 to government on whether it’s best to four-lane the existing highway or build a bypass.
Even then, however, an actual decision on which option prevails could be years away as ministry officials have said the existing highway corridor could function adequately function as-is until 2040.