West Kelowna council heard an update on the city’s 2040 Transportation Master Plan at this week’s regular meeting (Apr. 5).
Phase one consultation was done by HTR Corporation and James Laurence Group. The consultation was done in February and March this year with partners, stakeholders and the public.
“This phase was focused on understanding current transportation challenges and identifying opportunities,” said Debbie Cox, president and senior partner of James Laurence Group. “Later consultation will take place around a recommended future transportation network. That will take place later this year. This was really just about getting people’s ideas about what’s working and what’s not working.”
The consultation process involved online and in-person events that included community pop-up displays and an open house. Cox told council what they heard was a need for safe bike routes, more sidewalks, improved transit, connected community roads that work for all users, improved emergency and evacuation routes, and equitable access for all.
“We went out of the way to make sure we heard from youth, seniors and people with diverse abilities,” she said. “We heard that residents want safe cycling routes for everyone eight to 80. “We also heard ‘more transit, more often to more areas including lower-income areas of the city.’ As well, residents want connected sidewalks, trails, streets and transit.”
Mayor Gord Milsom was impressed with the public input.
“We got some really good feedback,” he said. It was well thought out and comprehensive, and covered a lot of different aspects of the transportation issue.”
Councillor Carol Zanon raised concerns over residents who might not have been heard from during the consultation.
“We have to be careful in considering who did not participate in this study and we have to make sure, that in spite of all, it’s our responsibility to look out for them as well,” said Zanon. She also raised concerns over sidewalks in the Smith Creek neighbourhood, especially with new and planned home construction in the area.
“You can’t walk down to Westbank Centre at all from there. If we’re talking about connectivity between neighbourhoods and also to the centre, I’m hoping that will get some attention,” added Zanon. “Another place, to my knowledge, that does not have a dynamic neighbourhood association is up toward the Rose Valley area. I don’t see anything pertaining to their neighbourhood, so we have to make sure that we do take their concerns into consideration.”
The report to council also outlined concerns for safe and accessible routes in and out of all neighbourhoods for emergency personnel and residents in case of an emergency or evacuation. Safe and efficient evacuation of residents in the event of a wildfire or flood is an important consideration for transportation planning.
Many existing neighbourhoods do not have adequate access and egress due to narrow roads and inadequate turnaround areas for large vehicles. All new development work underway should plan for emergency access and egress roads, the report stated.