Big turnout at Boucherie Road design open house in West Kelowna

Safety tops the list for many residents who live on, or near, the city's busiest road.

Attendees at an open house to discuss options for improving Boucherie Road in West Kelowna use the 'Build Your Own Road' tool to show what they would like to see.

The hot-button topic of how to improve West Kelowna’s busiest road was the subject of an open house Thursday afternoon, and plenty of people dropped by to have their say.

Three proposals for improving a section of Boucherie Road, from Stewart Road to Ogden Road, were presented to the public. But going in, even the consultant the city hired to come up with the concepts said the final look will probably include elements from all three concepts.

Peter Truch said he was happy to see so many people show up at the open house at the Lakeview Community Hall, as their input is critical to finding out what residents want, and why.

For many of the first 100 people through the doors of the open house, safety was a prime concern. But so too was moving traffic on a road one city councillor describe as not really an aerial but rather a rural road that was not kept up very well.

Two weeks ago, council lambasted Truch for the concepts he presented, complaining they did not do enough to move traffic or deal with the critical issue of left-turning vehicles.

His sharpest critic, Coun. Rosalind Neis — who told him he “missed the boat” with his concepts and she was “appalled” by what he presented — was on hand at the open house gathering comments from the public.

While the open house included information about the stretch of road in question, the concepts and a “build-your-own-road” opportunity for the public, Neis said she was disappointed there were no cost estimates attached to the three presented concepts.

While all three include separated sidewalks on both sides of the road, and different width bike lanes, only one showed a centre left-turn lane on the road itself.

Still, area residents like Sean Brush said he was happy to see an attempt is being made to make the road safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

“It needs to be changed—badly,” he said, adding for him a safe walking area and safe bike lanes are very important.

The road, which has also been deemed the “Wine Route” by the city, is the busiest road in West Kelowna and currently is used by more than 9,400 per day.

For area resident Gord Parrott, more emphasis needs to be put on traffic movement and less on the visual impact of it being a wine route aimed at tourists.

He also wants to see a centre left-turn lane, saying the U.S. city he spends the winter in, Yuma, uses them to great effect.

Other residents, like Chris and Leanne Johnson said they have noticed how much busier Boucherie Road has become in recent years, especially as many drivers now use it to bypass part of Highway 97, especially during rush hours.

“It needs to be safer,” said Leanne. “It needs an extra (turning) lane.”

The open house drew more than 100 people in the first hour and the input gathered will be used to come up with a design for the road that will be presented to West Kelowna council in the near future, said Truch.

The big thing missing in the three proposed concepts compared with the first phase improvement between Stewart Road and Highway 97 is a centre median.

All of council, and all the people spoken to Thursday at the open house, said they did not want to see a median on the second phase because the road is too thin and it causes problems for traffic to pass stalled or emergency vehicles and for turning.

Some people suggest “rolled” curbs so service vehicles can drive up onto the sidewalk when they have to stop on the road in order to let other traffic get by.

Others liked the idea of a roundabout at Boucherie and Hudson Roads, which Truch said could work as a traffic “calming” measure.

Council, however, was luke warm to that idea when they saw it two weeks ago.