Rail Trail

The current endpoint of the Okanagan Rail Trail in downtown Kelowna, shown here, is at Ellis Street. The city plans to spend $325,000 connecting the trail to Waterfront Park, about 500 metres away.

One of the missing links in the Okanagan Rail Trail will be filled in next year at an estimated cost of $325,000.

That’s how much the City of Kelowna plans to spend to design and build a new connection for the trail’s current endpoint downtown at Ellis Street to Waterfront Park. The distance is about 500 metres.

Currently, the trail is paved from Kelowna’s airport to Ellis Street. Trail users have to use regular sidewalks or cycle on Manhattan Drive to reach Waterfront Park.

“The Okanagan Rail Trail forms an important all-ages and abilities walking and bicycling connection between downtown, UBC Okanagan and points in-between,” reads part of the 2020 provisional city budget, to be considered by council during daylong deliberations set for Thursday.

Although the trail extends north of Kelowna to Coldstream, there is another missing link north of the airport toward Lake Country. The Okanagan Indian Band has not yet given its permission for the trail to be developed through band land.

In 2020, transportation-related projects worth a total of $20.5 million are envisioned in the provisional budget.

Some big-ticket items include:

— $5 million to replace the KLO Road bridge over Mission Creek

— $5.2 million to continue construction of multi-use pathways along Houghton Road in Rutland and Ethel Street in central Kelowna

— $3.7 million to resurface various roads.

The 2020 provisional city budget contains a municipal tax hike of 3.9%. If approved as is by council, it would mean the owner of a typical single-family home would pay an extra $81 in municipal taxes, to $2,153.

This does not include school taxes, hospital taxes, regional district taxes and other levies, which can almost double the total property tax that must be paid next July.