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City planning new cop shop for 2016

Kelowna Mayor Walter Gray delivered his annual state of the city address to the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce Wednesday afternoon. - Alistair Waters/Capital News
Kelowna Mayor Walter Gray delivered his annual state of the city address to the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce Wednesday afternoon.
— image credit: Alistair Waters/Capital News

The Kelowna RCMP detachment could have a new larger home by 2016.

And it could be located on a road that the city's mayor believes will, by 2025, by an extension of Highway 33 leading into the city's North End and to a possible future second crossing of Okanagan Lake.

Walter Gray, in his annual state of the city address to the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce Wednesday said planning and design work has already started on the new $41.6 million protective services building. A request for proposals could be issued this fall.

The new building will house the city's growing RCMP detachment and will be built on land the city already owns on Clement Avenue between Richter Street and St. Paul Street.

Pending final approval by council in next year's budget, the new building, which would replace the smaller existing 50-year-old Doyle Avenue detachment, could also house complimentary city departments like bylaw enforcement.

Initial plans call for construction to start in 2015 and be complete in 2016, said Gray, who referred to a city-produced may of proposed and in-progress projects during his speech.

"These aren't things we want to see happen, these are things that will happen," he said following his address when asked about the long list of projects he said the city will see over the next few years, particularly in the downtown area and in Rutland.

The mayor's speech outlined many of the accomplishments of his council's during its first year in office. But it also highlighted several upcoming projects he said will be catalysts for  development downtown.

While much of what Gray spoke about has already been extensively reported, such as a planned new high rise office tower downtown to house as many as 1,000 Interior Health Authority workers, a new $15 million parkade between Memorial Arena and the Kelowna Heritage Museum, a $4 million extension onto the existing Library parkade, a new tourist information building in City Park, an expansion of Stuart Park, relocation of the Kelowna Yacht Club to the site the soon-to-be demolished former Water Street Seniors' Centre and construction of a new $5 million pubic pier and commercial dock at the foot of Queensway, news that the city is now in the planning and design stage for the new  RCMP building was a surprise.

Long talked about by the city, the need for a new, larger RCMP building has been necessitated because the existing building is just too small for the size of the detachment. In December, the city council agreed to add 12 more officers to the 156 already working out of the detachment building across the road from City Hall.That building, built in 1962, has had major renovations made to it in the past, including the addition of a second floor.

In his speech, Gray said he believes Clement Avenue, parts of which were widened to four lanes several years ago when it was dubbed the North End Connector and then the Central Okanagan Bypass, will one day be an extension of Highway 33. But first it has to be extended from Spall Road to the intersection of Enterprise Way and Highway 33.

The road, said Gray, could one day lead to a second bridge across Okanagan Lake and that day will likely be by 2025 based on traffic projections.

Gray said most of the land needed to extend Clement to the Highway 33 is already owned by the city, so now it is a question of funding.

Given that the road will cost millions of dollars and needs to be four lanes wide, and new bridge could be as much as $250 million, Gray said the city will need to the province to step up with funding.

"But anything we can do on this side will reduce the overall budget," he said.

He said  the city has lobbied both the current B.C. transportation minister and the NDP's transportation critic to consider looking at a transportation corridor leading to a possible second bridge, as the city's traffic projections show the second crossing will be needed by 2025.

"Our numbers are (the government's) number because that's where they are coming from," said Gray about the projections.

The province replaced the 49-year-old Okanagan Lake Floating Bridge with the existing five-lane William R. Bennett Bridge in May 2008 at a cost of  $144 million.

The mayor said said the province has a policy of not "isolating" land for future projects more than 10 years out  and that is why no transportation corridor for a second crossing has been identified yet by Victoria.

Still, he said, he remains confident a corridor could be identified by Victoria some time after 2015 based on the timing of the need for the second crossing.

Gray's speech also included references to the city's plan to spend $89 million on capital projects throughout city this year, including transportation improvements in Rutland, such as a new transit exchange on Shepherd Road this spring, the second phase of the Rapid Bus program to link Rutland with UBCO and Okanagan College and other pedestrian improvement projects, as well as the ongoing $14 million Bernard Avenue revitalization project downtown.

 

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