Getting rid of the divided highway in Westbank came in at the top of the list for Westside capital projects that could use some provincial backing.
Mayor Doug Findlater said the district was outlining its capital project priorities in response to recent moves by Kelowna-area MLAs to poll the public about what projects they thought most required provincial funding.
Council endorsed said its highest priority projects are removing the highway couplet through Westbank, upgrading water system infrastructure and improving roads, sidewalks and bike paths, including the Gellatly Bay corridor. A pedestrian overpass across the highway near Const. Neil Bruce Middle School was added to the list as a separate item.
Coun. Rosalind Neis said it would make sense to have a bicycle corridor running on roads parallel to Highway 97, but there was potential to have a path cross the highway near the school and follow roads on the south side of the road to the Bennett bridge.
Coun. Bryden Winsby agreed the overpass should not be lumped in with other road and sidewalk improvements due to cost, but said the project should be pursued regardless of who controls the land.
“There is a significant safety problem there and we’re going to have more bodies on the side of the road,” said Winsby.
He noted the area is busy every day at 3:30 p.m., and in the morning.
The intersection rests partly within West Kelowna and partly on the Westbank First Nation land.
Winsby said if the project is to be pursued, the school district and the WFN should get on board as well. He noted children living on WFN and municipal land attend the school.
“The school board can’t turn its back to it, it’s an obviously important part of what (trustees) do.”