Kelowna seeking federal money to build a new electric bus depot - InfoNews

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Kelowna seeking federal money to build a new electric bus depot

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June 24, 2019 - 4:49 PM

KELOWNA - Moving its bus garage to a site near UBC Okanagan and rebuilding the Orchard Park bus station are two of five projects the City of Kelowna is hoping will be mostly funded by the federal and provincial governments.

A new funding program has the federal and provincial governments each paying 40 per cent. The city's 20 per cent share would actually be cut to 17 per cent by some regional funding.

Topping the list is the Hardy Road bus garage. It’s 25 years old, filled beyond capacity and there is no more land in that area to allow for expansion, Jerry Dombowsky, the city's transit and programs manager told council today, June 24.

The depot is used to repair, maintain, fuel and store the regional bus fleet.

B.C. Transit has earmarked $70 million for the Central Okanagan with the "Transit Operations Centre" at the top of its list.

Going along with a new depot is the conversion of the Okanagan bus fleet to electric buses.

Kelowna is the second largest fleet in the B.C. Transit system, next to Victoria. That means it may not all be converted by 2025 - the hoped for time for the new depot to open. If that happens, the old site can still be used so there is no risk of diesel fuel contamination at the new site.

The new location was known as the Serwa lands. It's near the Highway 97 overpass near the UBCO campus and will be bounded by a Hollywood Road extension and a new "multi-modal" route that will link to a Highway 33 extension to downtown.

While the location is some distance from the main bus stations, the cost of the land was so much cheaper than buying nearer the centre of the city and, Dombowsky noted, there are no 20-plus acre parcels of land readily available closer to the city's centre.

It's also in the Agricultural Land Reserve so will have to be excluded before it can be used.

Before applying for the grant, a $200,000 study is needed, funded 50 per cent by B.C. Transit.

There are also four bus station projects that will be studied with another $350,000 from the city, also in the hopes they will qualify for the new grants program.

That includes a revamp of the Orchard Park transit station. It’s the second busiest in the region with two-thirds of all transit trips passing through it, yet it’s on private land with no formal lease agreement.

The Mission Recreation Centre transit exchange also needs to be redesigned since it requires buses to navigate narrow and busy interior roads that slow the buses down and triggers conflicts with motorists.

A park and ride option at the new Rutland station and expanded service to Kelowna Airport will also be studied.

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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