Okanagan residents find creative ways to circumvent Highway 97 landslide

What was once a mere 20-minute drive to work has become quite an adventure for Okanagan Crush Pad Winery General Manager Craig Pingle.

With Highway 97 remaining closed due to a rockslide, Pingle initially tried to take the back roads but has since found unique ways to get from Peachland to Summerland.

“I had to think fast and figure out how to get to work…we went from a tourist season and lots of visits to a booming harvest,” Pingle said.

“On the first day, I took the secondary roads and it took more than two hours because no work had yet been done. On day two I decided to park at Okanagan Provincial Park and hike to the top of the hill. I did it once and definitely didn’t want to do it again. It took me about two hours to do the same thing.

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This week, however, Pingle has found a few more unique ways to get around its daily commute, including by sea and air.

“We kind of played with it and figured out how to make it happen,” Pingle said.

“I went home several times by boat with some of our friends from the Summerland area, then by paraglider. This is more of a fun activity than a realistic way to get to work.

Local businesses are also getting creative in offering services to help residents and visitors get around the landslide.

On Thursday, the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association released a list of businesses that are adapting to avoid travel disruption and provide options for travelers.

  • Air Canada is waiving fees for travelers whose existing reservations are affected by the landslide to change their arrival destination to Penticton or Kelowna.
  • Air Canada is waiving fees for travelers whose existing reservations are affected by the landslide to change their arrival destination to Penticton or Kelowna.
  • Hoodoo Adventures offers a daily shuttle service between Penticton and Kelowna via the Myra Canyon Trestles for those who need to return to their destination.
  • Luxury Lake Tours offers weekday shuttle service between Peachland and Summerland with one-way and round-trip options.

“It’s going well, it’s stable. We have a group of teachers that we help publicize, and they give us, you know, enough so that we can cover the costs, and we’re able to help,” said Calvin Barr, owner of Luxury Lake. Towers.

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“The response has been fantastic. The pa*sengers are very grateful, and we’ve been very rewarded just to be able to do that, to see the smiles on people’s faces – we’ve had weddings. We’ve helped organize weddings, including one where we moved 40 people. We had two boats and two trips.

According to Barr, the company says it had a tough end to the season and the water taxi is not just a way to help the community but also his business.

“Well, after the government shut us all down until September 4, business dried up, and when that happened, I saw an opportunity to help the public,” Barr said.

“We already had a boat dock here in Peachland, and we had the ability to move people across the slide to Summerland. We thought it was a good opportunity to help people and compensate for lost business.

Meanwhile, for Pingle, he’s still deciding what his next commute to work will look like.

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“I tried to convince the owners to buy a boat, I think we need a boat. Last year we bought an Airstream for the beautiful Garnet Valley Ranch property and they didn’t accept it, but I think that would have been my favorite way to do it,” Pingle said.

“I also thought going to sea would be good to do now, but next winter would be a different story.”

On Wednesday, the Department for Transport said that if all goes well, the highway could reopen to single-lane and alternating traffic on the weekend of September 16.

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