West Kelowna: District takes step towards Bus Rapid Transit

District of West Kelowna council have agreed to undertake a public consultation process regarding options for Bus Rapid Transit in West Kelowna.

David Leather of B.C. Transit presented the RapidBus plan to council on Tuesday.

He said that B.C. Transit is seeking project approval by the end of February, 2012 in order to begin the designing phase by March, 2012.

Phase one of the RapidBus network was completed in November, 2010 and provides service from UBCO to Gordon Drive.

Phases two and three will see the line extended to the Westbank town centre with exchanges in the downtown core, Boucherie and Westside Road.

According to Leather, five locations were looked at for the Westbank Centre exchange. The recommended solution is to put the exchange on Elliot Road.

Coun. Bryden Winsby asked if potential changes to the couplet were taken into account when debating the best location for the Westbank Centre exchange.

"When we looked at the options, we had two things in mind: The couplet and your vision for Main Street in the future," said Leather.

"That was one of the reasons we came to the conclusion of putting the exchange on Elliot, because it gives us flexibility for now and for what you want to do in the future."

Mayor Doug Findlater had concerns about using Elliot Road for the Westbank Centre exchange due to the fact that the left turn lanes would be lost.

"The traffic movements wouldn't be the same, there would be no left turns there: You would only have two lanes. Right now there is a left turn lane at each area where you try to access Highway 97 north or south," said Findlater.

"That's already, at certain times of the day, a very busy area. Traffic does back up there. Elliot is one of the major north/south connectors in the Westbank area."

Three locations were investigated for the Boucherie Exchange. The recommended option, according to Leather, is to put the exchange on Westgate Road.

The public consultation process will see open houses scheduled for mid to late January, 2012 to discuss the exchange options for Westbank Centre and Boucherie Centre.

Results from the public consultation—including associated recommendations—are scheduled to be brought back to council in February, 2012 for consideration.

Leather said the budget for this study, including the design, is $875,000. Approximately $600,000 has been spent to date.

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