Lake Country residents living close to the Pelmewash Parkway are hoping the busy roadway will be the first thoroughfare in the municipality to be free of heavy trucks.
This following a suggestion made during the Oct. 13 town council meeting calling for a ban of large commercial trucks along a two-lane stretch of Highway 97. This older part of the highway runs along the western edge of Wood Lake and was always designed to be a residential corridor.
It has been noted by local users of the road and residents that large commercial vehicles are using this road instead of the new four-lane parkway which opened two years ago. The bypass road is a steeper grade than the old road. Lake Country mayor John Baker cited a possible reason for commercial trucks to be choosing this smaller road is the fuel saving for drivers who don't want to make the slower climb. A formal motion is expected at the municipality's next meeting of council, along with a specific budget amount to install traffic calming measures.
The older, narrower road is now popular with cyclists and the increasing number of big rigs using the Pelmewash Parkway is driving local residents to be concerned about the safety of riders and the increased noise levels. A present, there are no regulations in the municipality of Lake Country which indicate a dedicated truck route, so commercial drivers can take any road they choose no matter the size. The municipality would have to take ownership of the roadway from the B.C. Ministry of Highways before they have authority over it. Negotiations are ongoing with no timeline as to when this could occur. Further red tape includes conducting a traffic count to determine the volume of commercial truck activity on the Pelmewash compared to the current volume on Highway 97.
With the speed limit currently just 50 km/h, speed is not a huge concern on this two-lane stretch; simply the amount of space on the road large commercial vehicles take up, edging out cyclists, and the noise created as the larger trucks start and stop along the roadway.
About Lake Country
Lake Country is part of the Central Okanagan Regional District between the north end of Kelowna and the city of Vernon. It has a population of approximately 12,000 residents and includes the towns of Winfield, Carr's Landing, Okanagan Centre and Oyama. Wood and Kalamalka Lakes are in this region. It was incorporated as a municipality in 1995.
Residents of Lake Country have purchased homes in this area to enjoy the peace and quiet of a four-season playground. It is a popular choice for those who love fishing, sailing, swimming and water skier. In the winter, residents enjoy milder temperatures for downhill and cross country skiing. It is in the heart of orchard country, home of BC tree fruits and world-class wineries. There are more than 2,000 hours a year of sunshine in this area of B.C., close to the amenities of the larger areas of Vernon and Kelowna with a more rural lifestyle.
While residents are determined to keep Lake Country safe and quiet for all, economic and real estate development is still evolving in the region. It still records high levels of new home construction. There are new multi-family developments along the various lakes and beautiful new residential subdivisions.