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OMMA scraps Coquihalla Highway proposal

VERNON, B.C. -- A recent meeting of the Okanagan Mainline Municipal Association (OMMA) about taking over control of...

VERNON, B.C. — A recent meeting of the Okanagan Mainline Municipal Association (OMMA) about taking over control of the Coq. Hwy. resulted in little more than frustration, according to one member.

Vernon Mayor, Sean Harvey, suggested dividing the association in half after a three-hour meeting he says accomplished very little.

“The frustrating experience shows the problem of a political lobby group representing two diverse regions,” Harvey tells local media. “We always get into a boundary fight. Maybe it’s time to change the boundaries so it’s just Okanagan and there’s a common focus.”

Currently, the members of Shuswap and Thompson are also represented by the group, which Harvey says causes problems.

“The Thompson-Nicola Regional District just buries its head in the sand,” he says.

In the end, delegates voted to oppose privatization of the Coquihalla and suggested the OMMA executive look at options for improving highway conditions in the region.

“This just sends us in circles,” Harvey blasted following the meeting.

The OMMA executive was hoping for approval to approach the province about taking over control of the Coquihalla through a not-for-profit corporation that would manage the highway. That would ensure the funds were re-invested in the region’s highway system, the group claims. But the latest meeting has put an end to that plan for now.

“For all intents and purposes, the plan is dead,” Harvey tells local media.

Opponents of the plan said the proposal encourages the government to continue charging tolls on the highway, while it’s hoped by many the tolls will be eliminated once the highway is paid for.

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