Although Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Blair Lekstrom was in West Kelowna to primarily speak about the land swap issue on Tuesday, DWK council took advantage of the opportunity to ask him about other issues as well.
Mayor Doug Findlater told the minister that the town centre couplet is a major concern of the community.
“We basically have two highways, a block apart, running through a business district. It’s very difficult to do business in that area with trucks screaming by. In fact, it’s hard to stand on a sidewalk and have a conversation with someone else in that particular area,” said Findlater.
“We know we have to bring that area back; it’s something we’ve studied and looked at extensively.”
Findlater said that the conceptual proposal is to make Dobbin Road a four-lane highway.
“We would like to have a real engagement with the ministry in terms of the potential relocation of the couplet. We think there’s a corridor issue there as well. There may be ways to move traffic through that area more efficiently.”
Lekstrom said that the ministry is committed to working with the DWK to help resolve the couplet issue.
“I think a lot of discussion has to go on to find out what’s going to work for both the Province and yourselves, but there has been some discussion already on that issue: The recognition is there,” said Lekstrom.
Coun. Bryden Winsby reiterated the importance of getting the ball rolling on the couplet plan.
“As you’re probably aware, the couplet itself is fundamental to whatever the community decides to do with the revitalization of our downtown area,” said Winsby.
Winsby requested that the transportation minister give the district a firm time frame so that council could begin to move towards something more concrete.
Lekstrom said that he can commit staff resources to help with the planning process; however, he is not willing to guarantee that the ministry will have the money to spend three or four years down the road.
Findlater also brought up problems that have been caused since the collapse of a retaining wall at the Westside Road interchange.
He said many of the complaints have been about the diversion of traffic. Findlater also suggested putting up a temporary set of traffic lights at Nancee Way.
“It was an unfortunate failure; there’s not a lot I can add to that. It cost a tremendous amount of inconvenience,” said Lekstrom.
“The light issue is one that they have looked at. At this point, it doesn’t seem to be in the cards.”
Coun. Carol Zanon told Lekstrom that she was concerned about the safety of the flaggers at Nancee Way.
“I sure as heck wouldn’t want their job when I come by there and they have to step out into the traffic. I don’t want to see one person hurt with this,” said Zanon.
She mentioned that, if the repairs take longer than anticipated, traffic lights might be a safer option for not only flaggers, but the travelling public as well.
“If there is something that changes substantially, we would entertain that,” said Lekstrom.
“We have the best trained flaggers in the country, if not North America. The do a very professional job. We’ve got to always encourage our drivers to take that extra care.”