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Central Okanagan-wide transportation plan could mean improved transit, more trails

‘The plan will help create a region where more people can choose sustainable and affordable transportation options’
The Central Okanagan Regional Transportation Plan expanded transit service and improved transit infrastructure and priority. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)

Central Okanagan municipalities have released the first draft of a region-wide transportation plan.

The Sustainable Transportation Partnership of the Central Okanagan (STPCO), a coalition of Kelowna, West Kelowna, Lake Country, Peachland and Westbank First Nation officials, released the plan on Thursday, June 11.

The plan establishes a framework of priorities to take place over the next 20 years which will allow local governments to work together to connect people and places across the region, prepare for future population growth, help people of all ages and abilities get around, reduce the growth of traffic congestion and greenhouse gases, and help the region’s economic recovery post-COVID-19.

“The Regional Transportation Plan will help build and maintain a healthy, thriving and connected future for the Central Okanagan,” says Rafael Villareal, the integrated transportation department manager with the City of Kelowna and administrator of the STPCO. “The plan will help create a region where more people can choose sustainable and affordable transportation options.”

Some of the recommendations in the plan include expanded transit service and improved transit infrastructure and priority, 81 new kilometres of regional bicycling and trail facilities, a regional goods movement study, roadway safety and efficiency improvements, and mobility hubs in Peachland and Lake Country.

“We see a future where bike and trail networks are integrated with transit, urban centres and regional destinations like hospitals, the airport and universities,” said Villareal. “We want to set a course for a future where people can make sustainable and affordable choices such as walking, biking, e-scooters or fast, reliable transit.”

The plan also contains initiatives to better connect the region, while reducing automobile dependence.

“The projects and priorities being recommended in the plan reflect what we heard from people across the region and would require further study and partnership with BC Transit and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure,” said Villareal.

The draft of the plan and its sub-components, including the Regional Bicycling and Trails Master Plan and the Regional Disruptive Mobility Strategy, will be presented to local governments in the coming weeks.

The public will have an opportunity to review and provide feedback on the three draft plans later this summer and the plans will be refined based on that feedback.

Final versions of each plan are expected to be presented and endorsed by the STPCO’s partner councils in fall 2020.

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