Work to start next year on Kelowna’s second walkway over Highway 97 | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Work to start next year on Kelowna’s second walkway over Highway 97

This is the existing overpass of Highway 97 between Parkinson Recreation Centre and the Landmark Centre. It was designed and built by Associated Engineers.
Image Credit: Submitted/Associated Engineers
December 07, 2020 - 7:00 PM

A $5.5 million pedestrian overpass of Highway 97 in downtown Kelowna will be one of the most visible changes residents will see next year.

The overpass was required as part of the Central Green housing development on the old Kelowna Secondary School site between Richter and Ellis streets. It was originally planned for 2030.

While the full cost is $5.5 million, only $317,000 is coming from taxpayers next year. The rest is already in reserve funds. It’s expected to be finished in 2022.

It's one of dozens of items Kelowna city councillors will consider as they review the draft 2021 budget this week.

Average homeowners are facing $90 increases (4.27 per cent) to their tax bills in 2021 so the city can bring in $158 million in taxation.

That’s just 40 per cent of what it plans to spend next year, with the rest coming from reserves, fees and charges to developers.

The final tax rate won’t be set until next spring, before May 15, so things like taxes from new construction can be factored in.

Traditionally, Kelowna city council does not deviate much from the tax rate proposed by staff.

By contrast, the City of Kamloops is looking at cutting services so it can keep its tax hike to.28 per cent, or $6 for the average homeowner.

READ MORE: Kamloops looking to save on tax increase by making service cuts

Kelowna’s budget includes lots of renewal, replacement and renovation items, from pavement and sidewalks to a $3.1 million renovation of City Hall and $3 million to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Here are some of the more noteworthy items council will be reviewing.

Despite much controversy over the leasing out of land occupied by the old RCMP building, $25,000 is requested to go towards studying ways to fund a new performing arts centre.

The Kelowna Legacy Group has lobbied against the RCMP site being leased to a developer so it would be available for a theatre without closing the existing building but has not convinced city councillors to change their plans.

READ MORE: Legacy group pushing Kelowna city councillors to revisit development of former RCMP site

The plan is to look into creating an in-house philanthropic/fundraising function for this and other major projects.

The theatre is scheduled to be replaced at its current location at a cost of $70 million in 2025-27 but there’s no money in place for the project.

Also due to be replaced is the Parkinson Recreation Centre at a cost of $83 million. A budget item for $1.4 million is needed next year to prepare for an Alternate Approval Process so the money can be borrowed without going to referendum. The money will also fund the design of the new facility and hire a project manager.

The new facility is to have an eight-lane, 25-metre pool, leisure pool, three gyms and a fitness suite. It’s expected to take three years to complete once funding is approved. Construction is expected to be in conjunction with a new high school.

Eight police officers are requested with a full-year cost in 2022 of $1.5 million. Six civilian staff to assist the RCMP are also proposed.

Another $3.3 million will pay for the twinning of the softball quad park at Mission Recreational Park.

Pandosy Waterfront Park will cost $1.45 million to build. It is scheduled to be finished in 2022.

It will cost $75,000 to complete the Bellevue Creek Linear Park to connect Lakeshore Road with Gordon Drive.

Another $220,000 over two years will be used to consult about the possibility of keeping the road up Knox Mountain closed to vehicles permanently and to fix the road into Paul’s Tomb so emergency vehicles can use it

The main roadwork project is the $1.3 million replacement of the bridge over Bellevue Creek on Lakeshore Road.

It will cost $666,000 to extend the Ethel Street bike corridor from Raymer Road to KLO Road.

Another $2.7 million over two years is needed to connect the Houghton Road bike lane to cross Highway 97 at Leathead Road to join Rutland to the Okanagan Rail Trail.

Another $250,000 is being requested to complete the final stage of the Okanagan Rail Trail to connect it to Waterfront Park via Manhattan and Sunset drives.

It’s estimated that $3.7 million will be lost in gaming revenue, offset by $7.9 million the city got from a Federal/provincial restart grant to help cover the costs of COVID-19.

The full budget can be seen here.

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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