A proposed development at Gateway Plaza that would add an auto service and a KFC restaurant put a fresh brush Monday to an old bugaboo frustrating motorists on the property.
Osoyoos Council was told adding the new services might also provide opportunity to review existing access and egress — especially the laneway adjacent to The Source outlet that connects the plaza to Eagle Court and the limited access Eagle Court provides to Hwy. 97.
“The wriggling of vehicles through this narrow and poorly designed route should be addressed now, especially in light of the increased traffic the new businesses will bring,” wrote Osoyoos resident Roger Taylor in a submission to Council about the single-lane access to the plaza from Eagle Court.
“I wish to suggest that the increased vehicular traffic to the Square, which will most certainly follow this project, provides an opportunity for our Town and for the project developer to jointly approach the BC Ministry of Transportation to recommend changes to the intersection of Hwy. 97 and Eagle Court.”
His comments came as Council held a special session Monday afternoon to hear from residents about a proposed zoning amendment that would open the door to the placement of a Great Canadian Oil Change outlet and attached single-bay touchless car wash on the property.
The new services would be located at the east end of the property in an empty lot adjacent to the building that is home to Your Dollar Store With More.
With an expected increase in traffic, improved traffic circulation is required, Mr. Taylor suggested.
“The traffic solution to all this would be to enable left turns from Eagle Court onto (southbound) Highway 97,” he wrote. (T)he best time to do this is now, when the issue can be presented as one concerning safety in light of the increased traffic flow.”
Two other presenters also spoke about that traffic flow.
Jacob de Raadt, a retired civil engineer, raised numerous concerns related to site access, circulation and parking issues and encouraged Council to reject the zoning change.
“I believe these proposed projects do not make the grade and should be rejected by Council,” he concluded, calling for a traffic impact study before the development is approved.
Michael Ryan, a former Osoyoos councillor, added his concerns, suggesting the oil change and car wash is “not appropriate for the proposed site.
“In my judgement, it will create circulation of vehicles within the mall and at the right-in, right-out access to Hwy. 3,” he told Council. “It will also create additional hazards for pedestrians and wheelchair users at the mall.”
He encouraged Council to evaluate the development against the Town’s age-friendly and climate action plans.
Council did take note of the expressed concerns and expected they would be addressed as part of the development process.
Hart Buckendahl, the applicant working on behalf of property owner Century 21 Developments Ltd., agreed access to the property was a concern and indicated he would do what he could to work with the Town to bring about changes.
“We all know that’s a problem,” he said. “I get as frustrated as everybody else having to drive around.”
Later, he said pedestrian safety is already being addressed by the development team.
“We have already talked to the engineering people prior to this meeting and there’s going to be a zebra stripe painted on the road which will designate a sidewalk,” he said. “Every section of that mall right now does have handicapped letdowns.”
Gina MacKay, the Town’s Director of Planning and Development Services, suggested changes to Eagle Court’s access to Hwy. 97 could be explored as part of the Town’s review of its Official Community Plan.
Staff recommended approval of the proposed rezoning, noting it “will enable a new business to be established in the town gateway entrance, providing service to both residents and the travelling public.”
Mr. Buckendahl added he expects the addition to the new services will also bring tenants to two empty units, one located between The Source and Buy-Low Foods, the other next to Your Dollar Store With More.
The plaza is also home to Interior Savings and Credit Union.