The founder of an online petition pleading for the installation of barriers along Hwy 97 says he’s encouraged by the reaction of over 26,000 people. Pictured above is traffic backed up following the fatal collision in January. (File)

Highway 97 petition founder encouraged by public’s reaction

Printed out, the list of 26,000 names creates a stack of paper four inches thick.

The founder of an online petition pleading for the installation of barriers along Highway 97 says he’s encouraged by the reaction of more than 26,000 people.

Printed out, the list of names creates a stack of paper 10 centimetres thick.

Since he was young Mick Harper has travelled the section of highway between Summerland and Peachland. For years he has known of its danger but when news of the fatal collision surfaced in January, he knew that enough was enough.

“I thought, why don’t you get off the couch and do something about it,” said Harper. “Why don’t you ask the question.”

By asking the question, Harper has garnered the support of more than 26,000 individuals online who have signed his petition. On Tuesday, it was presented to government leaders in B.C.’s Legislative Assembly by MLA Dan Ashton.

READ MORE: Penticton MLA urges government to address fatal stretch of Hwy 97

“I was pleasantly surprised by the number of people who took the time to offer their signatures on the petition, and their comments,” he said. “We’re over 26,000 people now, so obviously this has touched a nerve.

“It’s definitely satisfying to know the goal of the petition is being taken seriously.”

He says he has since received direct responses from several government including Minister Claire Trevena.

Currently the Ministry of Transportation is continuing their engineering assessment of the area and expect results to be published in the spring.

READ MORE: Analysis into fatal Hwy 97 collision continues

“Obviously my hope is that in performing this engineering assessment is that they will then be able to take those results and use it to make a case to install the barriers,” said Harper.

“It seems to me the ministry has made this a priority, so I’m hoping that we will have some answers in a short period of time.”

After growing up in Summerland and Penticton, Harper moved away to start a career but family and friends have remained here. Even after all these years he still considers it his favourite place in the world.

“It’s personal for me because I’m from there; I want to feel safe on the road and I want everyone else to be safe on the road as well,” said Harper.

Speaking to the support the petition has received, Harper said he’s encouraged.

“It’s certainly taken off,” he said. “As I said I’m very pleased… it’s being looked at and the wheels are turning. However slowly they may seem to be turning, there are things happening.

“Just waiting to see what develops next.”

@PentictonNews
editor@pentictonwesternnews.com

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