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Kelowna to spend $60 million on capital projects this year

It may not be as much as Kelowna spent on capital projects in the last few years, but this year the city says it will spend about $60 million on roads, bridges, pathways, public buildings, parks and other infrastructure.

With an end to the provincial-federal stimulus spending programs of the last few years that aimed to limit the impact of the recession on Canadian cities and towns, Kelowna will see a return to a "typical" year for capital spending in 2012, said director of design construction services Bill Berry.

"It will be a slimmer year than last year," said Berry. "But it's still not chump change."

Last year, thanks to a $40 million injection of stimulus funding, the city spent $120 million on capital projects. This year, when the $50 million municipal capital budget is combined with about $10 million in planned transit upgrades, the city will spend about half that amount.

While much of the spending will be for small, individual projects like short road pavement asphalt overlays across the city and tasks preparing the groundwork for bigger infrastructure projects in future years, like parks and trail routes, one of the biggest projects will also be one of the most noticeable.

The $14.5 million facelift for Bernard Avenue, the city's main downtown street, is slated to start in the fall and be completed over three phases including one next spring and a third in the fall of 2013.

That work will not only see the road rebuilt and new pipes installed under the road surface, it will also feature a whole new streetscape that will be paid for, in part, by a contribution from area merchants.

Berry said despite the city's decision to go with a municipal budget that called for cuts in virtually all departments and an average  tax hike of only one-tenth of one per cent, council made it clear to staff it did not want to cut back on the upkeep of its roads, building and other physical assets.

"Council asked us to progress with the plans because it did not want to forfeit our infrastructure," said Berry.

During a briefing with reporters at City Hall Thursday, city staff highlighted several projects that are coming up this year, including preparations for a new transit exchange in Rutland on Shepherd Road between Asher and Roxby Roads. In conjunction with related work on nearby Dougall Road, the city plans to spend the first $4 million what will eventually be a $40 million for transit and transportation improvements in the area over the next few years. Part of the initial work will be to extend Shepherd Road to Dougall Road.

The city will also spend $3.5 million on a new pathway and bridge over the existing rail tracks near the UBCO flyover to link the university with the Rutland side of the Highway 97.

Ron Westlake, who oversees transit and transportation projects for the city, said the new pathway will make access much easier for students who live in the Rutland area to cycle to the university in future. The pathway and bridge are in expected to take about three months to build later this year and will be a partnership with UBC and the province.

The city will also spend $3.3 million this year on construction of a new administration building at the Glenmore landfill. The project was approved in this year's budget. An estimated $9.7 million will be spent to start construction on the new John Hindle Drive between the landfill and UBCO later this year.

Another notable building addition will be the new Parkinson Activity Centre at the Parkinson Recreation Centre, work on which is already underway. The new building will become the new home of the city's seniors society, which will move out of its existing centre on the downtown lakeshore, north of the existing Kelowna Yacht Club. The yacht club will then move into a newly build building on the site of the existing seniors' centre, allowing the city to expand Stuart Park to the north in 2013 or 2014.

On the parks' side, the city will will spend $100,000 repairing Waterfront Park, which manager of parks and open spaces projects Andrew Gibbs said is starting to show its age after 20 years in existence.

The city will also spend $615,000 on lights for two softball fields at the Mission Recreation Park in order to make them useful at night.

In terms of road work, the city will continue its asphalt overlay program, spending $2.7 million on roads such as Richter Street, from Lakeshore to Lanfranco, Richter Street, from Raymer to Birch, Springfield Road, from Burtch to Ethel, Gordon Drive, from Bennett to Coronation, Willits Road, from Eastbourne to Springfield and Spall Road, from Highway 97 to Springfield.

City roadways manger Purvez Irani said the Spall Road work will likely be done at night to reduce the impact on traffic on that busy street.

Berry said after going at "breakneck pace" for the last few years, this year will be a return to a typical year for capital projects in the city.

But he said work will still be noticeable and anyone who want to know more about the many projects to be undertaken this year by the city can get information at the city's webpage (kelowna.ca) by clicking on the projects button.

 

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