Kelowna mayor Basran doesn't see light rail in Okanagan any time soon | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna mayor Basran doesn't see light rail in Okanagan any time soon

Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran
November 23, 2018 - 3:30 PM

KELOWNA - Mayor Colin Basran was a little sheepish about City Hall’s tech skills when he met with young business people at a luncheon yesterday, then went on to downplay the possibility of a high tech rail line in the near future.

Speaking to the Kelowna Junior Chamber International Thursday, Nov. 22, Basran said he knew the city's website could be more efficient. 

“We’re falling behind, particularly in making applications for things available online," he said. "For a city that prides itself on its tech sector, it’s a little embarrassing.”

Basran was responding to suggestions from chamber members. They had held round table discussions on different issues, then presented him with their conclusions, along with suggestions, such as the city creating a “great ideas” link on its website or finding ways to move people from one town centre to another more efficiently or get more shops in suburban areas or building a light rapid rail system.

“Connecting our town centres is absolutely important and that’s something we’re going to move forward with,” Basran said. “But, it’s not something that’s going to happen overnight.”

He cited Glenmore Valley as one example of an area that’s not a designated urban town centre but has lots of commercial options so people don’t have to drive so far to shop.

And he pointed to the Upper Mission where work on a bridge over the Bellevue Creek canyon is expected to start next spring. Once finished, that will allow shops to locate in the Ponds development.

Urban town centres are five areas where the city wants to concentrate growth so people are not so reliant on cars.

“There are some neighbourhoods where we will never be able to afford to run frequent transit service and it’s not viable for them to be riding their bikes or utilizing alternative modes of transportation,” Basran said. “I have been a proponent of directing as much growth into our town centres as possible. How that benefits suburban dwellers is because, if we can get people who live in town centers to utilize alternative modes of transportation, it means people can have less traffic to fight with when they drive into town.

But, in answer to the question about a rail line in the valley – something being promoted by UBCO engineer Gord Lovegrove - he doesn’t think that will happen any time soon.

“I would love to see a train from Penticton to Vernon,” he said, but it’s a long ways off. “In the meantime, it has to start with rapid bus. You’ve got to build the ridership first.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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