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10 years later, Lake Country residents still concerned with Crystal Waters Road safety

Mayor Ireland says plans are in place, need to secure funds
Screenshot of Crystal Waters Rd and Highway 97 from the video presentation made by the Highway 97 Safe Traffic Flow Working Group to Lake Country council on Nov. 16, 2022. (Screenshot/Highway 97 Safe Traffic Flow Working Group)

It’s been eight years and counting but a group of Lake Country residents haven’t stopped pushing for road improvements near Crystal Waters Road.

On Nov. 15, the Highway 97 Safe Traffic Flow Working Group once again made a presentation to council, to inform the new members of the safety concerns regarding Highway 97 and Crystal Waters Road.

Pam Dana made the presentation, complete with a video and several community members standing by to help reiterate the safety hazards.

“I think we’re building more momentum and I think, despite that we know it’s a process, there are people that are very hopeful that if we join our voices that the provincial and federal government or at least our Lake Country council and our community will stand behind us and say this is important, these are lives, families. These are people travelling through 97 that can also be impacted.”

During an interview with Black Press, Dana noted one of the councillors said the plans are ready to go, but lack of funding is preventing safety measures from being implemented.

“Funding is province-wide, from my understanding. There are a lot of priorities, there are a lot of things that need to be worked on. I recognize it’s hard to decide where you need to put the money.”

Dana said the improvements the group is asking for should be an easy one for the province to tackle.

“It’s good for everybody when you do it. It helps the whole province seeing that Highway 97 is a national feeder highway… It’s a busy corridor, so to do it helps everybody.”

The safety hazards at Highway 97 at Crystal Waters Road have been studied in the past.

Dana said in 2014, it looked like the project was going to move forward, but nearly a decade later the intersection still looks the same.

“It feels almost like it’s been forgotten about.”

Dana said she is lobbying others for their support, noting plans to present to the Central Okanagan School Board in the near future.

After talking to one of her neighbours, Dana said she’s learned school buses have refused to make turns on and off of Crystal Waters for safety reasons since 2007.

“She said that her children road the bus in late 2007…for two weeks. After two weeks of coming in - they had built a new house in the community and they had confirmed with the district when they bought the lot that bussing would be supplied. They bought the lot, they built the house, moved in, their children went to school for two weeks on the bus and then the bus (driver) said it’s not safe.”

Lake Country Mayor Blair Ireland said there have been multiple attempts to meet with the Ministry of Transportation to secure funding, but that has yet to happen.

“We’ve had those meetings with staff and really they’ve been a waste of time, because the staff, they want to build it. They live here, they see it, they know that it’s dangerous.”

Ireland said council will keep the pressure up as much as they can, but it ultimately comes down to the province.

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