Several people running and walking on the new and improved waterfront trail along Gellatly Road had to duck under a red ribbon Wednesday morning as West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater announced the completion of Gellatly Road phase three upgrades.
The $3.15 million project improved the road surface and existing lakeside trail and added cycling lanes, pedestrian lookouts, streetlights, dedicated parking with assigned handicapped stalls, storm sewers and catch basins.
Seventy new trees were also planted and drought-tolerant, irrigated landscaping was installed.
“This is our front yard,” said Findlater.
“We can fix roads here and there, but when we fix this road and rehabilitate this area, (it’s) for everyone.”
Since 2010, approximately $5 million has been invested in Gellatly Road, transforming it into a multi use corridor.
The first phase of improvements started at The Cove Lakeside Resort and finished at the Powers Creek Bridge. The second phase ran from the Powers Creek Bridge to the intersection of Gellatly Road and Angus Drive.
Council gave early budget approval to the most recent set of upgrades in January; construction began in March and the project was mostly completed by Canada Day, in time for the Westside Daze fireworks display.
The federal gas tax fund provided $800,000 toward the cycling and pedestrian components of the project.
Okanagan-Coquihalla MP Dan Albas said the improvements will create a more inviting atmosphere.
“Personally, I run this length here on a fairly regular basis when I’m in the riding. What I see is seniors walking, athletes running and a lot of families walking and enjoying the Okanagan sun and water,” said Albas.
“This has a dual purpose, not only to invite more tourists…but it also makes it better for local residents.”
The project was also made possible thanks to $994,000 from developer contributions and the remaining $1.36 million was funded through the district’s reserves.
Although the public has had mostly positive things to say about the upgrades, two issues have come to light, according to Findlater.
“There is less parking overall, but most people seem to be managing that,” said Findlater.
In particular, vehicles carrying boat trailers have raised a few concerns.
“People with the boat trailers are finding, at peak times, it’s tight. But they do have access to the private lot if they want to pay.
“The idea of creating stalls on the street is problematic because (boat trailers) take up two or there stalls; the public is not going to be very happy about that.”
The other issue is less space in the waterfront dog park.
“It is narrower overall because the fence has allowed (pedestrians) to move through there, unimpeded. It’s fine now that the water has dropped, but at high water, yes it was a concern for a number of people.”
Findlater said he has suggested staff look into what can be done in the next phase of upgrades to create a bit more space for dog owners who utilize the area.
The District of West Kelowna recently awarded Stantec Consulting Ltd. the design assignment for phase four Gellatly Road upgrades. The project will include improvements on Gellatly Road from Carrington Road to the intersection of Gellatly and Boucherie Roads and will tie in to the works completed in phase three of the project.
Findlater said the next phase of improvements will likely be expensive as there’s not only road work, but also rehabilitation to Smith Creek that will need to be done.
Pending council’s approval, phase four upgrades could be ready for tender in early 2014.