Kelowna's Half Billion Dollar Transportation Plan
Updated: Nov 19, 2021
Kelowna's ambitious 2040 Transportation Master Plan is out. Transportation upgrades are going to cost approximately $528.2 million dollars over the next twenty years.
What's in the plan. For starters, the plan forsakes the automobile in favor of mass transit or other alternative modes of transportation, rather than moving more cars.
City planners hope if they build it, they will come, moving car-centric commuters from their cars to other forms of transportation.
Doubling transit ridership, quadrupling the number of trips made by bicycle, and reducing the average distance each person drives by 20 percent is the goal.
So, city officials are looking at shifting as many short trips as possible to walking, biking and transit.
Shifting short trips will free up road space for commercial vehicles and people who need to drive. They are also optimistic about "emerging modes" of transportation, like ride sharing and electric bikes.
Many recommendations from Kelowna's Regional Transportation Plan completed last year were incorporated into the 2040 Transportation Master Plan.
Both plans focus on alternatives to the automobile.
COLLECTIVELY, KELOWNITES DRIVE THE EQUIVALENT OF GOING TO THE MOON AND BACK THREE TIMES EVERY WEEKDAY, THEY ALSO USE MORE SPACE FOR PARKING THAN FOR HOUSING
City planners hope improvements like decreasing the distance between pedestrian crossings and building more protected bike lanes so people feel "safer" will get commuters out of their cars
The plan focuses mainly on downtown and surrounding areas. According to the report, outlying areas don't have the density to provide more rapid transit. Future residential and business development will be steered towards areas with existing major traffic corridors to help increase population density making mass transit more viable.
The report concedes mass transit can't compete with the automobile in the cities out regions where there aren't many alternatives to a car.
The 100 or so page report states it's not possible to accommodate the anticipated increase in daily commutes by car, as high as 40% by 2040 in some areas, as land for building new roads is scarce and expensive. Other factors are steep hillsides, protected agricultural land, and Okanagan Lake.
Currently, Kelowna's annual transportation budget is around 40.8 million, 2/3rds of that goes to maintenance. The new plan would add an additional 27.8 million for a total of 68.6 million annually.
That adds up to a whopping estimated cost of $528.2 million for the next 20 years.
Some will come from increasing property taxes .02% the first year, most likely an increase each year, plus monies from Federal and Provincial partners and programs.
According to the report, the proposal balances the communities desire for improved service at an affordable price.
The Draft 2040 "TMP" recommends actions across six categories:
- maintenance and renewal
- road connections
- Neighborhood streets
- Education and emerging technologies
The City also plans to hold discussions with the Province about creating a "fast and reliable transit spine" along the highway 97 corridor to prevent buses from getting stuck in traffic, for example, a rapid bus on Highway 97 with dedicated transit lanes. Highway 97 is the responsibility of the province
THE PLAN IS TO REDUCE THE GROWTH OF TRAFFIC CONGESTION BY TRANSITIONING FROM A "CAR CENTRIC CULTURE"
ITS BEEN 25 YEARS SINCE KELOWNAS LAST TRANSPORTATION PLAN
An example of the plan is the Capri-Landmark Urban Centre which will benefit from alternative options, like protected bike and pedestrian pathways and improved crossings.
ROUGHLY FOUR OUT OF FIVE TRIPS WITHIN THE CITY ARE MADE IN A PERSONAL VEHICLE
Some road improvement is in the plan, like the Sutherland Avenue Complete Street project. Portions of the project have already been completed.
The report found high traffic areas like Okanagan UBC and the Kelowna Airport make them good candidates for improved transit and possibly a transportation hub.
40% OF KELOWNAS WORKERS COMMUTE TO THE DOWNTOWN AREA
Kelowna also hopes to benefit from new innovations in transportation that are here now or on the horizon.
"Electric vehicles are growing in popularity and are a critical part of our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Shared vehicle services, such as carshare (Modo), ride-hailing (Lucky to Go), bike share, or shared e-scooters offer the on-demand
flexibility of ownership at a lower cost."
DAILY TRAFFIC VOLUME ON THE WR BENNETT BRIDGE IS 30% HIGHER IN THE SUMMER THAN IN THE WINTER.
"It is possible that by 2040, many of the vehicles on our roads will be driverless. Many of these new driverless vehicles will likely belong to ride-hailing services. The prospect of ‘on-demand mobility means more convenient travel options, safer streets, and more independence for youth, the elderly, and people with disabilities. However, these developments could lead to increased traffic congestion as more people travel and empty vehicles circulate waiting to be hailed."
KELOWNA IS ONE OF THE FASTEST GROWING REGIONS IN CANADA EXPECTED TO GROW BY 45,000 TO 180,000 BY 2040
Three-quarters of Kelowna's future residential growth is expected to be in Kelowna’s
Core Area and five Urban Centers. "These are areas where walking, biking, and transit are increasingly viable."
The report found relatively few trips involve people just driving through Kelowna on highway 97. About 90 percent of the traffic crossing over the WR Bennett Bridge into Kelowna is heading toward a destination within the city, while only 10 percent are just passing through.
THE NUMBER OF TRIPS IN AND OUT OF THE DOWNTOWN AREA IS EXPECTED TO GROW BY 40% BY 2040
KELOWNA HAS ROUGHLY 800 KILOMETERS OF STREETS
The Regional Transportation Plan completed last year recommended further study of accommodating an eastbound transit lane on the bridge during the morning rush hour to allow transit to bypass traffic and stay on schedule, as well as adding dedicated transit lanes along Harvey Avenue from the bridge towards UBC Okanagan. It is anticipated that these and other projects on the provincial highway system will be looked at further as part of the next phase.
Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s Central Okanagan Planning Study.
What about winter you say? More snow clearing for bike and pedestrian pathways is in the plan.
The report was 5 years in the making.
Upload a PDF of the 2040 Transportation Master Plan HERE