A new trail along Highway 97 is in the works to ensure pedestrians and cyclists enjoy a safer and more scenic travel environment.
By Bill Johnston
O.S.P.S., Trails and Wilderness Committee
I have been asked to provide some background to the announcement of a separated hike and bike trail from the north end of Osoyoos Lake to Road 22, parallel to the four-lane highway construction now underway in this area. Originally there were only plans for a two metre wide walking path to replace the K.V.R. rail / trail bed at that location.
The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen raised concerns in late April about the inadequacy of this plan for such a narrow trail that had no provision for two way hike and bike traffic. A meeting in M.L.A. John Slater’s office on June 4, 2010, provided R.D.O.S. representatives from the area, Osoyoos Mayor Wells, and Okanagan Similkameen Parks Society director John Bremmer (involved since 1985 with the International Hiking and Biking Society) and me the opportunity to put forward and discuss improvements to the original proposal for the path.
The O.S.P.S. Trails Committee file contains the Ministry of Transportation and Highways cycle guides from 1992 and 2000. These editions of the guide, which were shared with the meeting, indicate that it is ministry policy to provide hike and bike paths to accompany new highway construction. We were also able to inform those present of trail width references from the policy guide and from a 20-year-old standard established by the B.C. Bicycle Association. While these standards call for a minimum three metre wide for a trail or path, they suggest that an adequate width is four metres, in order to ensure that two-way traffic is accommodated on trails such as the one that was under discussion.
We would like to express our appreciation for the effort, and subsequent results, put forward by M.L.A. John Slater, in order to secure this hike and bike path. John Bremmer and I see the application of the M.O.T.H. policy to this project as a precedent for future highway construction projects. This policy, and the precedent of this path, should ensure that all future highway construction plans provide for hike and bike path construction at the time of highway construction.
In the near term concerted efforts will be made to connect Road 22 with Road 9 with a two-way hike and bike path. Road 9 is located at the south end of the paved path on either side of Oliver. This wonderful, paved path was a project of the International Hiking and Biking Society. Mid-term efforts will be directed at connecting Oliver with Penticton using the Kettle Valley Railway right-of-way between these two points. One longer, term proposal calls for a circle route for hiking and biking, connecting Osoyoos, Oliver and Penticton with Myra Canyon and Midway. The circle would be completed with a Midway back to Osoyoos leg. This path would likely mostly be via the existing railway right-of-way.