City of Vernon staff have been accused of watering down a potential highway bypass.
Council members were not pleased Monday with an addition to the draft master transportation plan that references the possibility of an alternate route to Highway 97 in the future.
“This whole page-and-a-half has a negative feel to it – ‘We put it in because we were asked to but we really don’t want to include it,’” said Coun. Catherine Lord.
Two weeks ago, council was presented with the transportation plan and they asked administration to include wording about a future bypass.
What came forward Monday, in part, stated, “should the city decide to identify a possible transportation corridor within Vernon that could eventually be used for a highway bypass, doing so does not commit the Ministry of Transportation to constructing it.”
Coun. Brian Quiring was not impressed.
“I’d like to be a bit more definitive in the language,” he said.
“In 25 years, we will need it and we won’t have any provisions for it.”
Coun. Juliette Cunningham suggested that staff’s actions now are a departure from six years ago when they pushed for a bypass.
“I’m concerned that because it was a hot potato (then), we are avoiding it.”
Council members are also demanding ongoing discussions with the ministry about Vernon’s long-term transportation needs.
“We need to take a stand and keep it on the ministry’s radar,” said Lord.
Further discussion on the draft master transportation plan will be held July 22.
“We need to get to a plan. It’s important to have it (bypass) in there,” said Mayor Akbal Mund.