January 18, 2016 - 5:30 PM
KELOWNA - A consultant’s report has identified numerous gaps in Kelowna’s pedestrian and cycling network.
But the biggest gap might be between how much the city currently spends annually on bike paths and sidewalks — $800,000 — and how much it needs to spend each year by 2030 if it wants to realize just the priority projects identified in the report — $17,800,000.
And it’s not clear whether the political will exists on Kelowna council to try and bridge that particular gap, although councillors universally praised the intent of the plan — to get people out of their vehicles and reduce Kelowna’s higher-than-average use of cars for local travel.
“This is a beautiful master plan and I would love to see it adopted but people shouldn’t assume this going to happen until we solve the funding challenge,” Coun. Luke Stack said.
Stack and Coun. Brad Sieben both expressed concern about some of the possible funding mechanisms identified in the report — increasing the two per cent tax applied to all hotel rooms in Kelowna or bumping up the airport tax.
“I would not support this if it’s going to pick on one industry,” Sieben said. “I’m not opposed to some kind of fee that hits all kinds of industries.”
They seemed more receptive to a suggestion by Coun. Gail Given that pedestrian and bike infrastructure budget be tied as a percentage to the money Kelowna spends each year on roads and infrastructure for vehicles.
Mayor Colin Basran said he hoped an announcement yesterday that the federal Liberals are considering upping the government’s traditional one third share of infrastructure projects might help reduce the burden on local taxpayers.
In the end, council amended the draft pedestrian and bicycle plan to remove the offending funding mechanisms before giving it preliminary approval.
The plan will come back to council in March for final approval.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016