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Okanagan Lake community directory; okanaganlakebc.ca; okanagan community directory for kelowna, vernon, westbank, westside, winfield, kaleden, naramata, summerland, peachland, penticton, and oyama.

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$20 million road borrowing plan proposed
Kelowna Capital News - By Jason Luciw - June 18, 2010

Gord Milsom

Council is floating around the idea of borrowing several millions of dollars to upgrade arterial roads and pedestrian links around the municipality.

Coun. Gordon Milsom told council on Tuesday that West Kelowna should consider seeking public approval in a referendum to borrow as much as $20 million to improve the major routes in West Kelowna.

“Last year we put $1.5 million to roads, this year $2.5 million (to roads) and $250,000 to sidewalks. We’re only able to just do a small portion of roads within the municipality,” Milsom stated.

To date the majority of money for road upgrades has been coming from reserves, supplemented with some grants and annual tax revenue.

Milsom said if West Kelowna continues with its pay as you go plan, the municipality would only be able to address a small component of its road network.

“What about the arterial roads and collector roads that are really busy with proposed new development?”

Milsom said Boucherie Road in his neighbourhood of Lakeview Heights is one example of a major arterial road that requires an overhaul, including cycling lanes and other safety improvements.

“Why don’t we take advantage of the good prices and low interest rates and discuss the possibility of borrowing a fair amount of money with public consent? I don’t know what the number is––$20 million?”

Milsom said the money could be used to leverage federal and provincial grants. That combined with development cost charges would allow West Kelowna to make a dent in upgrading its major streets.

“Have a large pool of money and make some meaningful changes to the road conditions in our municipality, instead of just going $2.5 million each year. Spend $20 million to $30 million as a jump start program.”

Coun. David Knowles said he supported Milsom’s idea, however, it should be brought forward first to a future strategic planning meeting to explore all possibilities.

“I’m certainly open to hearing from staff to get the list…of the major arterials that need the attention. It’s pretty well all of them,” said Knowles.

“How we would decide on which is the priority is something (else).”

Coun. Rosalind Neis also said that Milsom’s idea was an interesting one, however, she noted that West Kelowna’s road network needs $125 million worth of improvements over the next 20 years, according to a road plan West Kelowna council saw two years ago.

Arterial roads in need of major upgrades include Glenrosa, Gellatly, Elliot, Brown, Shannon Lake, Ponderosa, Hudson, Westlake, Horizon and Bear Creek.

West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater said he would be willing to float around the idea of borrowing $15 or $20 million for roads, provided council was willing to take the idea to a vote.

“I do think we have to do that openly and transparently. It’s a lot of money. It is a significant hit,” said Findlater.

“It would be a discussion in early 2011 to start to build a plan where it could go to referendum.”

Findlater said he would not be in favour of going to an alternative approval process to borrow that kind of money.

Findlater said he believes a roads borrowing referendum would have a lot of taxpayer support.

“I actually think the community would support a comprehensive pedestrian/roads upgrade program. Everything we’re hearing and surveying and so on is that is the number one priority for people throughout the community.”

See related story, C9.

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Have a look at this Koolatron brand automotive cooler that melted from leaving it in a parked van during the summer.  Need a good motor for yours?

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