Trucks coming off Kelowna’s Ellis Street

Council votes to remove truck route designation from Ellis but keeps it for Gordon Drive.

Kelowna city council says trucks don’t belong on Ellis Street downtown anymore.

The road, which was a designated truck route into the  North End for many years, has been deemed too important to the future of a revamped downtown core and, as such, council said it’s time to take large industrial trucks off that street.

Instead, another designated downtown truck route, Gordon Drive, will be used.

But that is not sitting well with some Gordon Drive residents and businesses, who responded to city surveys about the change.

City staff say they sent out around 2,000 questionnaires  to gauge local public reaction and but received only 150 responses. But they did receive three petitions with a total of 470 signatures asking that Gordon Drive not continue to be a designated truck route and another, online petition with 373 electronic signatures calling for trucks to be banned from Ellis Street.

In the end, council pressed ahead with its plan to ban heavy trucks from Ellis, saying it is not in the interest of the plans the city has for the downtown core to keep large trucks using that street.

Previous city councils had limited the hours trucks could use Ellis and Mayor Walter Gray said the decision to remove the truck route designation from Ellis was actually made some time ago when the city embarked on its revitalization plans for downtown.

As for Gordon, city staff said the number o trucks that have been using it in recent years has dropped, in all likelihood thanks to improvements to Clement Avenue and the creation of the Central Okanagan Bypass, which links Spall Road with the North End via Clement.

According to staff, the number of truck trips per day on Gordon has fallen to 830 from 2,300 in 2007.

Still, several councillors said there will be a need for increased safety measures on Gordon to help protect the residents that live along Gordon from the truck traffic. The city is looking at increased signage and wants to work with residents to find other ways to make the road safer now that it is the main downtown truck route.

One of those residents is Coun. Luke Stack, who said while he will have to put up the truck traffic and the noise they make, he is willing to live with it because he realizes it’s important to get trucks off Ellis Street.