For years concerned residents have complained about the safety of Westsyde Road, the congestion of traffic, the speed people are driving and the resulting near misses or accidents on this major artery connecting the Kamloops North Shore with Westsyde. Recently another accident sent three people to the hospital and I join everyone reading this in wishing our fellow citizens a full and speedy recovery. Anyone who’s driven that road knows it could have just as easily been them.
This isn’t a new issue and there will likely be more near misses and accidents in the future. Not to mention, such dependence on one exit route raises legitimate concerns about our ability to quickly evacuate people if this growing neighbourhood was ever threatened by wildfires or other harms. Many people are understandably frustrated with the current situation.
But there is a simple way to alleviate traffic congestion on Westsyde Road and at the same time forge a more united Kamloops: a Westsyde-Rayleigh connector bridge. A simple bridge that connects Rayleigh to Westsyde would not only link two of the city’s most disconnected neighbourhoods but would help businesses on either side of the bridge flourish and thrive.
A Westsyde-Rayleigh connector bridge would help deal with traffic issues, promote tourism and expand markets and access to services for citizens in both neighbourhoods. For example, Rayleigh residents could more easily access Privato winery, the Westsyde pool and a variety of stores and services in Westsyde. While Weststyde residents could more easily access a safe and ready route to the highway, opening up destinations like Sun Peaks.
The bridge would also serve as a way of uniting the city. Right now, the neighbourhood of Rayleigh is disconnected from the rest of the city. You have to go through the lands of the Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc to get to it. With a bridge, this enclave would be linked, truly uniting the city for the first time in its short history.
Building bridges is not a new topic of discussion for Kamloops, but the one that most commonly comes up is the Singh Street bridge supposed to link Rabbit Island, Mission Flats and create a second link between the North and South Shores. I’m not saying the Singh Street bridge is a bad idea. I am just saying that a Westsyde-Rayleigh connector bridge makes more sense right now. With Kamloops current development plans, around 18 per cent of new growth will be in the North Shore.
So, I’ll throw it out to you Kamloops. Is it time to build bridges in this community? Is it time to link our great city together for future generations? It’s your call.