By Lorene Keitch
Traffic. Our quiet little Valley turns into a congested mess of RVs, cars, trucks, and SUVs regularly over long summer weekends.
The lineup into Invermere July 1st seems to be the heaviest traffic of the year, so this last weekend was not a surprise to locals. But it was a frustration to many. Some people took more than 40 minutes to make it from the Crossroads intersection to downtown. Even leaving Invermere took 25 minutes Saturday morning.
Thankfully, it is not a regular occurence. But when it does happen, drivers get frustrated, kids in the backseat get edgy and the day is slightly soured before it has really begun.
The problem appears to be not only the large volume of vehicles coming into town, but where to fit those cars once they make it to the downtown core.
There is a serious limit in parking spots for long weekends, which leads to a backup of cars circling the area to look for spots. Side roads, alleys, the old community hall lot are filled, and cars spill into the further roads. After the parade, Kinsmen Beach was packed with celebratory citizens embracing our collective birthday at the Mountain Mosaic Festival of the Arts, or enjoying our recreational amenities by jumping in the lake or lounging on the beach. Of course, the cars were lined all the way up the road past the Station Pub.
It is a sign of a healthy tourism market here when there are more cars than we can handle. And hopefully, everyone just accounted for the extra time it took to make it to the parade, or to the festival, to stroll the market, or to watch the awesome fireworks display put on by the Kinsmen Club of Windermere Valley.
While traffic woes can be irritating, it means the Valley is booming, and that is a good thing. Visitors are staying in our hotels, eating at our restaurants and spending money at our stores. So if it takes longer to get to where youre going, dont complain. Just hear the ka-ching of money in our collective pockets, crank up the radio while you wait and celebrate living in a place people want to drive to for a visit.