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Unforgiving Journeys: The Perils of Westside Road in North Okanagan

Is the 67 km Westside Road a Dangerous Route? A Grim Chronicle of Motor Vehicle Deaths

For years, the 67 km Westside Road, which traces the northwestern shore of Okanagan Lake to Kelowna, has earned a reputation as a treacherous path. Countless incidents have unfolded along this perilous highway, leaving behind a tragic legacy of lives lost and families shattered.


Once labeled British Columbia's most dangerous drive, Westside Road, just north of Kelowna, garnered this dubious title for two consecutive years in a BCAA driver survey back in 2012-2013, eventually slipping to second place in 2014. Despite significant investments of taxpayers' money, the road continues to exact a heavy toll and remains an unforgiving and exceedingly dangerous route.



While some sections have undergone improvements, as evident in striking before and after videos, there are other segments that defy any description other than treacherous. The government of British Columbia has made promises and embarked on various projects to address the perils of Westside Road.


However, for many, these efforts have been piecemeal, failing to bring about a comprehensive solution.


The list of tragic incidents etched in the annals of the Westside Road serves as a grim testament to its dangers. Here are a few heart-wrenching examples:


Laticia Watson: In June 2023, Laticia Watson's vehicle crashed near Trader's Cove, rolling into Okanagan Lake. The challenging conditions hindered immediate recovery efforts.


Noelle Teal: On October 15, the 20-year-old woman tragically collided with a truck south of Lake Okanagan Resort, succumbing to her injuries.


Tragic Incidents of the Past:

From the fatal collision involving a grey sports utility vehicle in 2021 to the motorcycle accidents in 2012 and 2011, claiming the lives of David Allan Thomas Hall, Ronda Zawada, and Mr. and Mrs. Thor, respectively, these incidents serve as haunting reminders of the risks posed by the Westside Road.


Despite the dire circumstances, it is essential to acknowledge the historical significance of Westside Road. The route was used by the Syilx Indigenous people for thousands of years, later becoming a route for fur traders in the early 1800s, and eventually facilitated cattle transportation. It wasn't until the early 1920s that the road was widened, allowing wagons to traverse its path.


In a perplexing contradiction, the winding nature of Westside Road has also become a draw for motorcycle enthusiasts. Tourism Kelowna even promotes it as "the tail of the Ogopogo," highlighting its 330 curves and elevation changes.


The government of British Columbia has made sporadic improvements to the road over the years, as evidenced by their initiatives in 2013, 2014, 2017, and 2018. However, these measures have failed to address the overall safety concerns comprehensively.


As Westside Road continues to claim lives and pose risks, it stands as a stark reminder that promises and partial solutions are not enough. The call for a more comprehensive and sustainable approach to upgrading this treacherous stretch of highway remains pressing.


Links to Government of British Columbia announcements on improvements to the North Okanagans Westside road.


2017 - https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2017TRAN0062-000544


2018 - https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018TRAN0026-000326


2014 - https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2014PREM0093-001471


2014 - https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2014TRAN0047-000944


2013 - https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2013PREM0078-001086


BC gov before and after of one improved section of westside road 2018

https://youtu.be/_JAcxrZSjLg



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