Transportation plan for Central Okanagan needs funding attached to it says MLA

Where's the money?

Many of us avoid Harvey Avenue (through Kelowna) throughout the summer months and have trained ourselves to try to find alternative routes.

The summer surge in traffic is now a year-round phenomenon. Additionally, the number of traffic accidents and incidents that shut down our roadways seems to have increased exponentially.

And it is only getting worse.

The recent unveiling of the 20-year transportation plan by the provincial government, while a significant step in our pursuit of addressing transportation challenges, leaves me with both optimism and concern.

To be clear, I applaud any effort aimed at addressing our province's transport needs. Many areas, including Kelowna and the Okanagan, have experienced growth and development over the past years, making the need for improved and expansive transportation infrastructure more pressing than ever.

This growth is going to continue, and we need to have plans in place to accommodate that growth.

It is exciting to see that the (W.R. Bennett) bridge (over Okanagan Lake) is finally getting some attention. The bridge is a major impediment to travel between both sides of the lake. To see it will be expanded to add an additional lane is exciting.

How will this be accomplished? It was planned for. By adding a pedestrian/bike pane off the side of the bridge, we will have a six-lane bridge rather than the five lanes it has today.

But beyond that addition, it is hard to ignore some glaring oversights in the transportation plan.

The 20-year planning horizon, in my view, is a tad myopic, especially considering how quickly technology and transit innovations are advancing. We live in an age where electric vehicles, autonomous transit and even concepts like hyper-loops are on the horizon. A lot can change in a mere two decades.

To craft a plan without provisions or adjustments for future advancements or future transportation corridors, feels like a missed opportunity. What’s more, a solid plan without solid funding is like a vehicle without fuel. The omission of clear funding commitments from the provincial government is disheartening. Projects, no matter how well-planned, are only as good as their execution.

Kelowna needs funding for the transportation plan, to extend Clement Avenue, enlarge the bridge, and enhance and electrify our transit system.

The residents of Kelowna need and deserve more than just a blueprint. They deserve a fully funded, concrete plan that will not only look to the immediate future but will pave the way for generations to come. We need to consider extending the plan’s horizon beyond 20 years, to factor in the inevitable technological and transit breakthroughs and crucially, provide concrete funding commitments. We owe it to our residents, communities and future generations.

My question to you is this:

What do you feel should be added to the transportation plan?

I love hearing from you and read every email. Please email me at [email protected] or call the office at 250-712-3620.

Renee Merrifield is the BC United MLA for Kelowna-Mission.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Renee Merrifield is the BC United MLA for Kelowna - Mission and the Opposition critic for Environment and Climate Change, as well as Gender, Equity and Inclusion.  She currently serves on the Select Standing Committee for Finance as well.

A long-time resident of Kelowna, Renee started, and continues to lead, many businesses from construction and development to technology. Renee is a compassionate individual who cares about others in the community, believes in giving back and helping those in need through service.

She values your feedback and conversation, and can be reached at [email protected] or 250.712.3620

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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