It could cost more than $1.2B to move people around by 2040

The high cost of traffic

With a population estimated to grow by 40 per cent in the next 20 years, the city of Kelowna is trying to determine the best way of moving people from Point A to Point B.

And, just as important, how much that infrastructure is going to cost.

City council was presented with an update on progress on its 20-year Transportation Master Plan Monday which gave options as to how this can best be accomplished.

Council was provided three separate scenarios to get the city there in the next 20 years, and the costs associated.

Scenario 1, at a cost of $960 million, would do what was possible with existing funding levels, Scenario 3 would fund all recommended projects at a cost of $1.55 billion, while the preferred Scenario 2 would meet in the middle, at a cost of about $1.16 billion.

Collectively, Kelowna residents own more vehicles per capita than any other city in Canada, and together, drive to the moon and back twice each weekday.

"If all of our future residents continue to drive as much as we do today, total vehicle kilometres travelled is projected to increase by 25 per cent," stated transportation planning manager Mariah VanZerr.

"The 2040 OCP and TMP are working together to co-ordinate land use and transportation planning to shorten trip distances and reduce auto dependency, reducing the growth of greenhouse gas emissions.

"Reducing the distance people have to drive to meet their daily needs is so very critical."

In order to make the best use of available funds, VanZerr says the best way to manage congestion while optimizing travel times over the next 20 years will be to limit development in car dependent areas such as hillside and rural areas that are farther away.

Instead, she suggests providing high quality alternatives to driving alone in the core area where transit, walking and biking are more competitive, and can move more people in the limited amount of road space.

"To keep Kelowna moving, and maintain our high quality of life, it will be necessary to increase investment in the transportation network, to shift as many future trips as possible to more sustainable, affordable and space-efficient, healthy modes of transportation."

As of 2017, VanZerr says 67 per cent of all trips in the city were made by vehicle, compared with 42 per cent in Vancouver.

Even with modest investment outlined in Scenario 2, she says that number may only be reduced to 63 per cent over the next 20 years.

She also suggested greenhouse gas emissions, which the city is dedicated to lowering in the coming years, could only be slowed by measures outlined due to the expected increase in population.

The scenario proposed by staff, and adopted by council, envisions yearly spending of about $18 million on maintenance and renewal, nearly $15 million on transit, $12.3 million on road connections and about $10.5 million combined on multi-model corridors and bike paths.

Staff hope to present a final version of the plan sometime next year.

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