Published on : Wednesday, November 1, 2017
The Mayor of Merritt, B.C., is appealing for the province to reconsider its decision for closing a popular highway tourist stop in early 2018 that sits at the junction of the Coquihalla Highway and the Okanagan Connector.
The site with rest rooms and snacks is a common pit stop for B.C. drivers going between the Lower Mainland and the B.C. Interior, but it is slated to shut in January.
“It certainly wasn’t an easy decision for us to make because the centre is a popular one and almost a tradition, really,” said Kathleen Harvey, manager of visitor services at Destination B.C.
Harvey said that a number of factors were considered when making the decision, including declining visitation, old infrastructure and the construction of a new provincially-built rest area nearby on Highway 97C. The new modern rest stop at the Loon Lake interchange, between Merritt and Kelowna, falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and is expected to open before the end of the year.
The new rest area will have washrooms and picnic tables but will not include tourism information.
The mayor said the current location serves roughly 10,000 cars a day and is necessary for local tourism.