HELSTON: Improving Stickle Road needs to be a two-way street

Charlotte Helston is the Vernon reporter for InfoNews.

Anyone who’s waited five minutes to make a risky, left-hand break for it off Stickle Road onto Highway 97 towards Vernon knows something needs to change before someone gets killed. Agreeing there’s a problem is the easy part. Finding a solution is where the road rage sets in.

Right now, we’ve got the Ministry of Transportation suggesting one thing, and locals another. We’ve got the right-in-right-out proponents, and the traffic light advocates. We have government engineers conducting traffic surveys and running data through computer programs versus the common folk who actually drive the intersection on a weekly, sometimes daily basis. So, who’s the expert?

Maybe it’s neither. Maybe we need to work together to come up with the best solution. But instead of putting our heads together, we’ve been butting them.

We don’t know much about the private, in camera meetings held between Vernon councillors and the provincial government because the contents of those meetings is confidential.  What we do know, thanks to outspoken councillors, is the meetings were not a two-way street. Some councillors have even said the Ministry of Transportation ignored the input given. And that’s just the consultation with elected representatives.

The Ministry of Transportation did hold a public input session, but withheld the details of the plan until the day of the open house (hence the private meetings.) Vernon Coun. Scott Anderson called the approach “springing the plan on the citizens of Vernon at the first and last opportunity they have to comment” which “effectively excluded them from all meaningful consultation.”

I hope the Province doesn’t see public consultation simply as a formality, another check in a box, because it’s not. It’s there for a reason. Local people are the ones who drive our region’s streets. They are the ones who own businesses directly impacted by the functionality of roadways, and they are the ones who will grieve when friends and family members are lost in car accidents. They know what’s at stake, and while not every road user is a traffic engineer, they just might have something valuable to add to the discussion. You never know until you ask.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infonews.ca or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.


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