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Inflation and rapid growth pushing up Kelowna’s transportation costs

$310 million has been budgeted for transportation in the city’s 10-year capital plan
(Capital News file photo)

Road infrastructure and transportation projects in the City of Kelowna are expected to cost significantly more starting by 2026 and moving forward.

At its May 15 morning meeting, staff told council that $310 million has been budgeted for transportation in the 10-year capital plan, but due to inflationary pressures costs are projected to rise by 40 per cent.

Other challenges include Kelowna growing faster than long-term expectations and staff capacity being stretched as projects become larger and more complex.

READ MORE: Moving Kelowna into the future: Transportation overview going to council

Staff also noted that the city’s development cost charges (DCC) reserve is growing, however, using it often requires matching city funds and being restricted to certain projects.

Council was presented with three options to complete road works and transportation projects within the capital plan.

Option A uses the city’s current financial framework but decreases the number of projects and reduces others on the priority list.

Option B balance needs with available resources, while Option C best reflects the transportation master plan.

Staff recommended Option B. Coun. Charlie Hodge called it a “slam dunk” but asked what it would take to get to Option C.

“This council is responsible with what we do with the next council, it’s called long-term vision” he said. “Last council I work hard at having a long term vision but obviously not hard enough to have C where it is.”

Staff told council it’s important to update the 10-year capital plan annually and that while there might not be a perfect solution today, there could be a better solution in a year’s time.

Council also heard that there is $70 to $80 million in the DCC reserve and staff is going to try and get it out on the streets as quickly as possible.

Council finally voted in favour of a “B+ option,” which could include additional enhancements beyond the recommendations in the capital plan.

A final report will be presented to council in July.

READ MORE: Kelowna MLA wants province to speed up transportation plans on Highway 97


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Gary Barnes

About the Author: Gary Barnes

Journalist and broadcaster for three decades.
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