Greenway tunnel proposal put on hold

The plans for a proposed tunnel through the rock at kilometre 12 of the Mission Creek Greenway will wait until sunnier economic times, but the trail bypass currently in use is bringing the area’s grasslands to light.

  • Thu Feb 10th, 2011 5:00pm
  • News

The plans for a proposed tunnel through the rock at kilometre 12 of the Mission Creek Greenway will wait until sunnier economic times, but the trail bypass currently in use is bringing the area’s grasslands to light.

Golder Associates senior geotechnical engineer Glen Rutherford said the project has been completed with a detailed tender package and could be constructed at any time.

Only the funding is needed to get started.

He said in general the rock quality in the area is good, but deteriorates toward the far eastern section of the slope.

“We weren’t able to stay away from the creek as much as we would have liked.”

Rutherford said based on 2010 construction costs, the tunnel would cost about $900,000.

He added with a suggested 20 per cent contingency, the final price would reach $1.1 million.

During the design process, an environmental assessment was conducted of the area.

The entire project would be taking place in a sensitive ecosystem. Rutherford added that two rare species, the screech owl and yellow-bellied racer, were spotted in the area at the time.

He said the company laid out a series of best management practices for construction of the tunnel, and strongly recommended an environmental professional be retained to monitor the project due to its proximity to the creek.

But funding the project would happen in partnership between the Regional District of Central Okanagan and the Friends of Mission Creek Society.

The five year parks plan for the regional district does not have any funds allocated for the project, and the society is low on cash to chip in for the tunnel as well.

Peter Gill, current president of the Friends of Mission Creek Society, said the group passed a motion in 2010 to put the project off for five years.

He pointed out the rationale was to get the project ready to go, but also that the society was concerned about the economy.

Not having the funds would mean the society would have to go fresh to the public for fundraising.

Gill said the tunnel project is seen as a special event for the society but the timing for public donations could be poor.

“At this time, when some of them are really suffering because of the downturn, it’s probably not a good idea.”

He added that the current trail bypass has actually had benefits in highlighting a grassland area of the park.

Gill pointed out many people are concerned about the fate of grasslands, and the society is working on featuring the type of ecosystem more highly.

The regional district board moved that the society come back with a report on their funding priorities so that the two bodies could work in tandem.

msimmons@kelownacapnews.com