As congestion continues to build on Kelowna roadways the city is, generally, avoiding building more roads in favour of encouraging people to walk, cycle and take the bus. But there doesn’t seem to be much urgency in getting that done.

Take for example the Kelowna Employer Commute Trip Reduction Program that's going to city council on Monday, Sept 25.

“Commute trip reduction programs can help reduce congestion during the mornings and afternoons by supporting employers in offering flexible work hours, work from home, or encouraging commutes by bike, walk and transit (when appropriate),” a report going to council says. “Commute trip reduction programs are used in cities around the world as a cost-effective way to improve traffic flow, reduce emissions, and improve mobility options for residents.”

The whole idea started with the adoption of the 2040 Transportation Master Plan in January 2022. It included a recommendation to create an Employer Commute Trip Reduction Program.

So earlier this year consultant Alta Planning and Design was hired to help the city draft a plan tailor-made for Kelowna.

Consultants reviewed past and existing programs, and met with six of the city’s biggest employers: Kelowna General Hospital, Interior Health, Okanagan College, UBC Okanagan, Orchard Park mall and three of its own departments.

One of the key takeaways from those interviews was a lack of awareness about commuting alternatives. So, the team came up with five key recommendations to deal with that.

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One is to “expand and enhance” current traffic demand management programs. The report going to council doesn’t say what programs or how they can be enhanced, other than to provide a short list of "elements" like GoByBike Week and carsharing.

Another recommendation is to develop toolkits and guides to “raise awareness” about commuting options.

Number three on the list is direct employer support to “help employers do more with fewer resources” and to compile a number of case studies.

An Employee Transportation Coordinator is listed under that recommendation but the number four recommendation seems to overlap as it talks about creating a list of employee transportation coordinator networks with various employers.

Finally, the recommendation is for education and marketing.

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The next step is to develop program materials next year – if council approves an as yet undetermined budget – to do that work.

If that does go ahead, the program will be launched some time in 2025, at least three years after the concept was approved by council.

In following years, it will be time to evaluate all this work with a report back on progress listed for 2027.

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