The rocks, weeds and overgrown bushes along the western side of Wood Lake don’t make for an inviting swimming environment.
A narrow and fairly rough strip of land separates fast-moving traffic along Highway 97 from the lake. The six-kilometre stretch, which has a number of roadside pullouts, is popular mainly as an area from which to launch boats. But that could change next year when the town of Lake Country assumes control of the road from the provincial government.
By the end of June , a new $78-million, four-lane stretch of Highway 97 connecting Winfield to Oyama, is scheduled to open in the hills above the current lake-level road.
“We want to make sure we get as much community input as possible this fall on what people would like to see done with that road,” Lake Country Mayor James Baker said Wednesday.
“Once the road loses its highway traffic, the speed limit will be reduced, and it will become much more of a relatively quiet, neighbourhood street,” Baker said.
While some limited commercial development is possible, the current intention is to make the road a popular recreation corridor. Depending on available funds, amenities such as a dedicated bike lane or multi-use corridor are possible.
“Some beaches could be developed, particularly at the north end, where there is more accreted land to work with, and the lake is shallower,” Baker said. “I think it could all be made into quite an attractive area.”
Some people, however, not so enthusiastic about the prospect of the new bypass opening, are those business owners whose premises line the existing two-lane highway.
Gatzke Orchards, a third-generation, family-owned fruit stand that includes a cafe, campground and rental space for concerts and private functions, will lose its direct access to highway traffic.
“Things will change, that’s for sure,” said co-owner Ingrid Gatzke. “Hopefully we can get some signage up on the highway encouraging people to keep coming down into Oyama.”
Source: Ron Seymour. “Highway to become beach?” The Kelowna Daily Courier.
“The municipality has launched a poll to let residents put forth possible future names for the stretch of Highway 97 between Winfield and Oyama. … Town council will choose a new name for the road in November.” (Source: The Kelowna Daily Courier, September 15, 2012)
What would you call “the Old Highway 97” if you had a choice? Well, now is your opportunity!
Following is an excerpt from the District of Lake Country’s Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Owen4oyama/220353531362305#!/lakecountry.gov)
Have your say on naming the “Old Hwy 97”. We need your help to find the perfect name for this special section of road through Lake Country so that it is memorable and relevant for tourism and way-finding. Deadline: Oct 15th, 2012. Following is the link to your input form:
It is important to note that there is space to suggest other names which you may feel are equally appropriate for this artery which has been one of the dominating features of Oyama for years.
Don’t delay, time is limited!