Power poles

A sidewalk construction project in West Kelowna in 2018 raised eyebrows when the cement was poured around utility poles. The city plans to spend $9.2 million on 4.5 km of new sidewalks by 2030.

Every centimetre of a fast-tracked sidewalk expansion program in West Kelowna will cost $21.

About 4.5 kilometre of new sidewalks will be built across the city from next year through 2030, municipal officials say, for an estimated cost of $9.2 million.

The two projects for next year are a 665-metre stretch on McIver Road in Glenrosa and a 370-m section on Westlake Road.

When West Kelowna incorporated in 2008, sidewalks were lacking in many areas because rural road standards had applied when the community was governed by the Central Okanagan Regional District.

Since incorporation, about four kilometres of sidewalks have been built in West Kelowna. The program is funded by fees paid by developers, gas taxes returned by the federal government, and local taxes.

In 2016, the budget for new sidewalks was increased to $600,000 annually, and it was doubled in 2018, to $1.2 million.

"The increased budget has allowed for accommodation of escalating construction costs, project scope increases, and ultimately accelerating the program," reads part of a city report.

In addition to sidewalk construction, the city has an ongoing plan to improve the overall "street-scape" on a number of local roads with enhancements such as bike lanes, intersection upgrades, landscaping, and decorative features.

Consideration of which road improvement projects to prioritize is based on factors such as traffic volumes, pavement conditions, and crash statistics.

Priorities for the coming years are Gellatly Road between Carrington Road and Boucherie Road, Bartley Road between Stevens Road and Highway 97, and Shannon Lake Road from the Asquith Road to the city boundary with the Westbank First Nation. The available funds are about $3 million every two years.

City council will decide at a future meeting whether to adjust these priorities.