- Originally posted on 22 February, 2018 -
South Perimeter Road (SPR) and the Alternate Approval Process (AAP)
By Len McFarlane
Chairman, Kettle Valley Neighbourhood Association
The AAP Controversy
The City of Kelowna is moving ahead with a bylaw to compensate Pond Ventures Inc. for an amount up to $10.7m to accelerate the design and construction of a bridge/roadway system connecting The Ponds neighbourhood to the Crawford neighbourhood across Belleview Creek.
Due to the fact that the repayment period is for more than five years the city must obtain the approval of the electors either through a referendum or an AAP.
A referendum is decided by a poll of eligible electors who vote either yes or no on a particular issue.
The city has chosen the AAP as it is the least expensive of the two, however it is the most controversial.
In this case 10,700 signatures (10%Â of city-wide eligible electors) must submit their signatures to city hall on an official AAP document by March 16 in order to successfully oppose the bylaw. The instructions for those who do agree with the bylaw is to do nothing.
The controversy lies in the perception that the AAP does not present a level playing field for those who are opposed as they are the ones who must do all the heavy lifting to succeed.
Those who do nothing could, in fact, be away or not have heard or seen the AAP announcement. The "do nothings" could also include those who genuinly do not understand the definition of an AAP or don't understand the geography of the Southwest Mission. Then there are those who do understand the issues, but have concluded that it doesnâ€™t really affect them. Critics feel, however, that all AAPs feed on a common apathy of eligible electors.
The accelerated project
South Perimeter Road
The accelerated project consists of the design and construction of South Perimeter Road which is roughly 2.3 km of roadway connecting Stewart Road West to Gordon Drive. There is also a multi-plate bridge structure for the Belleview Creek crossing in the proposal. This project is being accelerated by approximately 8 years.
The postponed projects
The following road improvement projects could be delayed for periods of 5 to 10 years in order to accommodate the SPR proposal. These high volume traffic corridors of Chute Lake Road, Lakeshore Road and Gordon Drive already fail consistently during peak traffic periods with traffic volumes out of the Southwest Mission totalling an average of 1517 vehicles per hour and this number is expected to increase to approximately 2060 vehicles per hour over the next 12 years.
#1 - The Frost Road Project
This project would include the extension of Frost Road from its current terminus at Kildeer to a new intersection at Chute Lake Road.
#2 - The Lakeshore and Gordon Bridges
These projects would include the widening of the current narrow bridges to add sidewalks and bike lanes consistent with the safety standards for main road arteries. The Lakeshore Bridge would also permit the southbound continuation of the Active Transportation Corridor to better accommodate pedestrians and cyclists.
#3 - The Dehart Road and Lakeshore Road
These projects would provide upgrades to add curbing, sidewalks and bike lanes consistent with the safety standards of main arterial roadways.
Understanding who benefits
In 2014 a telephone survey of Southwest Mission residents was conducted to assess the motivation of local residents to move the SPR ahead of schedule. Respondents were provided with information on road improvement projects that would be delayed in favour of an additional access to and from the Southwest Mission Transportation Sector. The results showed that 63% were in favour of the acceleration of the SPR proposal.
It would be reasonable to assume that a high percentage of those polled would have been influenced by the possibility of an accessible third access for all SW Mission commuters. Later information has revealed that, due to the remoteness of the access to the SPR, it is likely that very few would benefit. (See below.)
City planners have continued to be open and transparent with the public by recognizing that the SPR proposal will provide important benefits to two projects in the The Ponds neighbourhood; the new Commercial Centre and the new Junior Middle School (See above). Both, in turn, will be featured benefits for the development of The Ponds neighbourhood. City planners also recognize that Crawford residents will have an increased ability to access these services without the necessity of a trip into town.
A staff report to City Council on May 1, 2017 stated that the SPR is expected to be beneficial as a "safety valve" which prevents worsening delays on Lakeshore and Gordon. However, until a roadway through Thomson Flats is completed, the benefits will likely be limited to the Ponds area.
At an Okanagan Mission Residents' Association meeting on December 5, 2017 representatives of the Thomson Flats development stated that plans for a roadway through the valley have not been finalized, therefore initial development will be limited to the existing road accesses at the western-most areas of the project.
Update: At the recent public information meeting on Wednesday, February 28, 2018 city staff acknowledged that studies are still ongoing to determine the feasibility of a road through Thomson Flats.