2nd crossing back on city's radar

Kelowna's mayor believes it's time to being lobbying the provincial government for a second crossing over Okanagan Lake.

Walter Gray made the comments Wednesday during his annual 'State of the City' address to the Chamber of Commerce.

While talking about the number of attractions the city does, and hopes to host, and the inevitability of Kelowna's population growth, council is already 'building the case for a second crossing of Okanagan Lake.'

"The planning work needs to start now, before the William R. Bennett Bridge reaches its capacity, which is expected to be by 2025 to 2027," says Gray.

"We need to get it on the provincial radar because the next Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure needs to get this into their planning cycle for corridor identification consistent with provincial government policy."

Gray told the packed chamber luncheon the city will spend nearly $90M on new capital  projects in 2013, nearly double what was spent a year ago.

Some of these include:

  • $22M for upgrades and expansion at Kelowna International Airport
  • $4.5M in transit improvements in Rutland
  • $3M for Phase 2 of rails With Trails from Spall Road to Dilworth Drive

Work is also expected to begin this summer on a $15M parkade on the existing parking lot at Memorial Arena and a $4M expansion of the Library Parkade.

Gray also says planning and design work is underway for a the new RCMP building on Clement Avenue.

"The current detachment isn't big enough for the current number of staff - never mind the additional members we'll be adding over the next three years," stated Gray.

The new detachment could be ready by 2016.

While work continues downtown on both Phase 2 of the Bernard Avenue Revitalization project and construction of a new downtown pier, Gray says other downtown plans are also expected to take shape in the coming months and years.

"This year we will consult the community about the future of City Park, including options for a Tourism Kelowna Visitor Centre, proposed to be located on the north side of the Veendam Walk off Abbott Street," says Gray.

"Phase 2 of Stuart Park will get going this year with redevelopment of the promenade, demolition of the old seniors centre building and relocation of the Kelowna Yacht Club."

Gray says Kerry Park will be reconstructed in 2014 and, a boutique hotel planned by Westcorp for the old Willow Inn site is moving ahead.

"I understand we could see an application submitted later this year," says Gray.

Gray added he is proud of what the current council has been able to achieve after little more than a year on the job and looks forward to the challenges ahead.

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