Kelowna plans to spend about $200,000 to beautify a median on the Harvey Avenue portion of Highway 97, in front of Orchard Park Shopping Centre.
The work, to take place in phases between now and next spring, will see the currently bare traffic dividing island spruced up with trees, shrubs, grass and decorative brick, as well as a safety guard to allow workers to tend to the plantings without the risk of being struck by passing vehicles.
City manager of parks and public space projects, Andrew Gibbs, said the median is one of six between Burtch Road and Highway 33 that are wide enough and long enough to warrant such an improvement.
Gibbs said while the city plans to eventually landscape them all, currently there are no plans to do more than the one between Dilworth Drive and Cooper Road.
“There will be a lot of demands for funding next year and median improvement are not high on the priority list,” he said.
Last month the condition of some medians along Harvey Avenue were described as an eyesore by one city councillor but Gibbs said the plan to landscape the one currently being done has been on the drawing board for several years.
He said when the province widened parts of Harvey Avenue to accommodate the HOV land, the traffic lights were moved from the middle of some medians to the side of the road and that allowed to city to look at the improvements. But he said, the plans had to be re-drawn a few times over the years because of additions, such as the need for the traffic guard to protect works on the median.
The work, being done by the city despite the fact the province has jurisdiction over the road because it is a provincial highway, is now underway and will be paused over the winter and finished in the spring. Gibbs said the civil work is being done now and the landscaping will go in next spring.
The city is paying for the entire project.
Highway medians at the north end of the city and on Harvey near the lake have were landscaped several years ago using a large grant from the province.