Costs of incorporation continuing to mount

Before West Kelowna voted to incorporate, residents knew there would be a price to running a City Hall, their own RCMP detachment and maintaining their own roads, among many other costs.

Before West Kelowna voted to incorporate, residents knew there would be a price to running a City Hall, their own RCMP detachment and maintaining their own roads, among many other costs.

But two reports that reached the council table in the past month make past estimates pale in comparison.

A study of West Kelowna roads two weeks ago called for $192 million over the next 20 to 30 years.

And while that report was harshly criticized by councillors for being over-the-top, those costs, while higher, were expected.

On Tuesday, councillors faced down another $2.5 to $5 million required over 10 to 15 years to fix stormwater drainage problems, another legacy of neglect from a time when the provincial ministry of transportation and highways managed the problem.

And some of the hot spots are becoming immediate needs. Councillors had to wrestle with an ongoing problem with Green Bay on Tuesday.

The man-made bay is slowing filling with sediment off the hillside including immediate neighbour Quails’ Gate Winery, but also from development above at Mission Hill.

The bay is so shallow that the milfoil harvesting machines can’t work in there and it makes navigation difficult for residents. They have been petitioning council for help and a solution to the runoff.

Proposed plans to deal with the issue range between $650,000 and $840,000. Residents of Green Bay also expect the district to help pay for dredging the bay.

But Mayor Doug Findlater says, according to their report, Green Bay isn’t the priority.

“The other big ticket item is Smith Creek,” he said. “There are water quality issues in Smith Creek including everything from pesticide-related runoff and E. coli in the creek, to severe erosion at the end behind McDonald’s and running down by the doggy beach. That in my mind is emerging as higher priority because it dumps into an area adjacent to a public swimming area.”

The cost of that project alone is $600,000 to $700,000. “We can’t do them all at once,” Findlater said. “This will have to be a staged program over five to 10 years.”

Marshall Jones is a Capital News contributor.

Kelowna Capital News