Starting May 19, you can have your say on existing conditions and performance of the Highway 97 corridor in the Okanagan, including any traffic congestion concerns you may have.
This is the launch of the public engagement portion of the three-year transportation planning study for the Central Okanagan, which is exploring future mobility needs, including route options and potential timing for a future second crossing of Okanagan Lake.
Public input into this first phase of the study will be important in developing the requirements and potential options for future transportation improvements in the Central Okanagan. The ministry will consider feedback from this consultation along with existing provincial plans, technical data and local government input.
When the five-lane William R. Bennett Bridge opened to traffic in 2008, it was estimated the bridge would serve the region’s traffic needs for 25 years or more, based on extensive traffic analysis. Traffic counts on the bridge confirm this to still be the case.
Even though a second crossing is more than two decades away, it’s important to start the planning process now, as the Okanagan region predicts continued population growth. The population of the Central Okanagan is currently approximately 187,000, with the vast majority located in Kelowna (65%) and West Kelowna (17%). By 2034, the Central Okanagan population is expected to grow to nearly 255,000 people, an increase of more than 36% in 20 years.
There are many ways for people to participate in this phase of public consultation:
- Open Houses: The public can attend either of these two upcoming open houses:
- Kelowna Open House ─ Tuesday, May 19 - 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Ramada Kelowna Hotel and Conference Centre, 2170 Harvey Ave., Kelowna
- West Kelowna Open House ─ Wednesday, May 20 - 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Westbank Lions Community Centre, 2466 Main St., Westbank
- Website: A new website will be launched on May 19. Interested citizens can submit the feedback form or take part in the online discussion.
- Dialogue/ presentation sessions: The project team will hold dialogue/ presentation meetings with community groups and stakeholders. This will allow more in-depth discussion with business, environmental, transportation, agricultural and other stakeholder groups.
- Social Media:
This Phase, Part 1, considers:
- The performance of the corridor, including congestion and safety factors.
- Travel patterns, the role and function of the Highway 97 corridor and the W.R. Bennett Bridge, and the needs of all users, including car drivers, goods movers, transit riders, carpoolers, cyclists and pedestrians.
- Connection to and support for local, regional, provincial and national growth and transportation plans.
- Trends in population, economic development, land use, sustainability initiatives, community livability, traffic and travel modes in the Central Okanagan.
- Your experience with respect to all of the above.
Future work will consider:
- Future transportation needs.
- Possible improvement options for the long and near-to-intermediate term.
- Further public input.
The study area for the Highway 97 corridor extends from just south of Peachland to Clerke Road/ College Way to the north, encompassing the communities of Peachland, West Kelowna, Kelowna, Lake Country, the Westbank First Nation and Okanagan Indian Band.
Premier Christy Clark, MLA for Westside-Kelowna -
"With a growing economy and population, we need to start planning for the future of the Okanagan today. That starts with hearing from the people who depend on these roads every day, and we look forward to hearing from residents on how best to meet transportation needs into the future."
Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Todd Stone -
“Our infrastructure needs to keep pace with the growing population and traffic levels, and that’s why we are launching the planning and public engagement process now. This portion of the study is gathering a snapshot of the needs and experiences of all travellers on the corridor, including local drivers, truck drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. We encourage interested citizens to join the conversation.”
MLA for Kelowna-Lake Country Norm Letnick -
“With the many natural attractions and economic opportunities of the Okanagan region, we know that the population and economy will continue to grow in this vibrant region. We see tourists continuing to come back to visit our local wineries, beaches, and recreational trails. All of this means it’s important to start the planning and consultations now for future considerations of infrastructure expansion.”
MLA for Kelowna-Mission Steve Thomson -
“We’re interested in what local citizens who live and work in this region have to say about travel on the Highway 97 corridor, and across the William R. Bennett Bridge. Safety and mobility are important factors in future decisions. It’s important that we hear from the public about their experiences travelling the highway corridor, all of which will be combined with local government input and technical data as we move into the future.”
Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure
Government Communications and Public Engagement