After more than two years of technical studies, consultation, and unprecedented region-wide partnership and collaboration, the Sustainable Transportation Partnership of the Central Okanagan (STPCO) has released the first region-wide transportation plan for the Central Okanagan.
“The Regional Transportation Plan will help build and maintain a healthy, thriving and connected future for the Central Okanagan,” says Rafael Villareal, 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.”
Called Connecting Our Region, the long-range, high level plan establishes a framework of priorities over the next 20 years so local governments can 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 growth of traffic congestion and greenhouse gases, and help the region’s economic recovery post COVID-19.
The plan sets the direction for regional, local and Indigenous governments in the Central Okanagan to work together to:
- Move people and goods more efficiently
- Achieve fast and reliable transit
- Improve local connections to regional transit
- Create a safe and convenient region-wide bike and trail network
- Incorporate new mobility options
- Reduce future greenhouse gases
“We want to encourage the most efficient use of the existing road network,” said Villareal. “We are looking at innovative ways to improve roads, create dedicated space for transit, add more connected bike and walking routes and embrace new mobility options such as ride-hailing, bikeshare and car share.”
Examples of recommendations in the Regional Transportation 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, among others.
“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 Regional Transportation Plan recognizes the urgency of the global climate crisis and provides recommendations that will help to better connect our region, while reducing automobile dependence. This will be critical to protect the Central Okanagan’s environment and high quality of life for future generations.
“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,” adds Villareal.
A 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 regional Councils and the RDCO Board on the following dates:
- June 15, City of Kelowna
- June 16, City of West Kelowna
- June 29, Westbank First Nation
- July 7, District of Lake Country
- July 9, Regional District of Central Okanagan
- July 14, District of Peachland
The public will have an opportunity to review and provide feedback on the three draft plans later this summer. Engagement activities will be available in a digital format to follow advice from the Provincial Medical Health Officer in regard to COVID-19. Based on feedback, the plans will be updated and refined, with final versions expected to be presented to each of the STPCO partner Councils and the RDCO Board for endorsement in fall 2020.
The Regional Transportation Plan is a project of the Sustainable Transportation Partnership of the Central Okanagan (STPCO), a collaboration of City of Kelowna, City of West Kelowna, District of Lake Country, District of Peachland, Westbank First Nation, and Regional District of Central Okanagan. The STPCO is focused on environmentally responsible/sustainable transportation solutions that strengthen the economy and quality of life in the region.
To learn more about the Regional Transportation Plan, see results from past public consultations, and sign up for regional transportation email updates, visit smartTRIPS.ca.