Kelowna wants to tap into federal funds for new cycle lanes

An ambitious $267 million master plan calls for hundreds of more kilometres of cycle lanes in the city by 2030.

Kelowna’s mayor says his council is very enthusiastic about development of more pedestrian and cycling paths in the city.

But Colin Basran admits there’s no way the city will be able to do everything called for in a new city pedestrian and cycling master plan presented to council Monday morning.

That’s because the report calls for spending of $267 million between now and 2030. Based on the current level of city funding for the plan, only $90 million worth of the required work will be done between now and then.

That is unless the federal government steps in to help.

Basran said he hopes to see Kelowna qualify for transportation infrastructure money the new federal Liberal government has promised municpalities across the country. That money could help the city close the funding gap.

“We’re hoping to count on the feds to help us,” said Basran, adding the pedestrian and cycling master plan should help the city have “shovel-ready” projects in place to help secure grants from Ottawa.

City staff presented the report to council Monday, recommending a range of options be considered including higher taxes to help pay for the creation of “active transportation corridors.”

The city’s goal is to have 25 per cent of all trips of less than five kilometres made by walking or cycling by the year 2035.

Basran pointed to the recent acquisition of the former CN rail corridor and said there are already people willing to fundraise to have it become part of the city’s Rails With Trails program, so he feels the public will be on board with the city’s plan.

“(The corridor) would be part what’s called for in the master plan,” said the mayor.

He added the master plan will also provide key components to the city’s Official Community Plan.

While the city has 400 kilometres of sidewalk, 300 kilometres of bicycle lanes and four kilometres of multi-use pathways in the city, the master plan calls for another 90 kilometres of sidewalk, 41 kilometres of cycle lanes with separation from vehicles and pedestrians, 44 kilometres of shared-use pathways and 210 more kilometres of regular road bike lanes.

The pedestrian and cycling master plan will be presented to the public at a series of open houses this spring.