The City of West Kelowna is asking drivers to slow down to 30km/h on Westlake Road so as not to crush western painted turtles crossing the road. (Paige Erickson-McGee)

The City of West Kelowna is asking drivers to slow down to 30km/h on Westlake Road so as not to crush western painted turtles crossing the road. (Paige Erickson-McGee)

Turtle season: City of West Kelowna installs turtle crossing signs on Westlake Road

Western painted turtles cross the road to access two ponds on separate sides of the road

Western painted turtle nesting season is here and the City of West Kelowna is reminding drivers to slow down.

City crews installed new signage on Westlake Road, reminding drivers that the area sees a lot of turtles crossing the road and to slow down when they see them.

“The intent is that for the prime mating season, we’ll have the signs in place,” the city’s director of engineering and public works** Allen Fillion said.

“We’ve designed the signage so that we can flip over the part of the message about the turtles, primarily because if you just put signage up and leave it there, it gets ignored.

“So every spring, when this becomes an issue again, we want it to look new, so it can get people’s attention.”

Crews also installed a speed reader board in the area last Friday, so more drivers are aware of how fast they are going.

Last year, the city installed trail cameras to observe how the turtles in the area behaved. The move came after a particularly gruesome spring, with turtles getting crushed by vehicles as they tried to cross the road.

Western painted turtles in the area cross from one side of Westlake Road to the other to get to the pond where they nest.

The city had built underground culverts for the turtles to cross safely but based on what staff observed from the cameras, the turtles weren’t using the underground pass.

“With the budget being approved, we have some money now that we can use for additional work in the area this year,” Fillion said.

“We hired a biologist last year who recommended the camera and recommended some repairs on the fencing currently in place, as well as further upgrades to the area.”

Fillion said the goal is to add more fencing, which will help guide the turtles to use the underground passage to cross the road.

“Please be aware, and please drive with care. That’s our key message here.”

READ MORE: City of West Kelowna to install trail cams to monitor turtle crossing at Westlake Road


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