2040 Transportation Master Plan
The Transportation Master Plan is intended to guide our actions over the next twenty years. It is a comprehensive system-level plan, but there are still many details to fill in. When faced with trade-offs, these policies can help guide decision-making.
The layout of a city has a significant impact on travel behaviour. Where people live and where they need to go strongly influences the options they have to get around. The 2040 Official Community Plan (OCP) sets out ways for the city to grow that reduce our dependence on driving. This section describes how our transportation system can support this shift.
Focusing growth in Urban Centres is the best way to address the infrastructure deficit, mitigate increasing congestion, and reduce emissions. It also presents a challenge. With more activity happening in the same space, streets in Urban Centres will have to ‘do more’ for these areas to function well.
The 2040 OCP outlines five Urban Centres: Downtown, Pandosy, Capri Landmark, Midtown, and Rutland. The policies below illustrate how transportation can help ensure these areas thrive.
Develop a well‐connected grid network of streets to shorten walking distances and improve traffic circulation (OCP Objective 4.16)
To maximize the people-moving capacity within our Urban Centres, it will be necessary to re-think our streets. Developing a well-connected grid of streets will make it easier for people to bike, walk and take transit, take pressure off major arterials, and provide more access and public space for businesses (e.g., parking, deliveries, patios).
TMP Policy 1.1 – As development occurs in Urban Centres, fill in the grid with new streets, laneways and public pathways.
TMP Policy 1.2 – Design the street network to consider the needs of people of all ages and abilities, including people with disabilities.
Intersections can cause delays for all travel modes using the street network. In Urban Centres this can have the greatest impact on people walking and biking. Recognizing the importance of making walking and biking comfortable and convenient to accommodate growth in our Urban Centres, traffic signal operation should be optimized to prioritize these modes.
TMP Policy 1.3 – Prioritize the movement of people walking and biking at traffic signals in Urban Centres.
Create urban streets that are attractive to live, work and shop on (OCP Objective 4.17)
In addition to moving people, streets in Urban Centres need to be comfortable places to live, work and shop. Urban Centres are busy places with lots of competing demands for street space for activities ranging from driving and parking, to walking, biking, or sitting at patios.
The 2040 OCP introduces the concept of ‘street character’ that identifies the desired ground floor use (e.g., retail or residential) of buildings in Urban Centres. The design of the street itself will also be important and will need to consider many factors. For example, wider sidewalks and on-street parking are critical on retail streets, though sometimes restaurants can repurpose on-street parking as seating areas. High streets, such as Bernard Avenue, are the focal points of Urban Centres and each one will require careful consideration of their unique context.
TMP Policy 1.4 – Consider the character and ground floor uses when making changes to streets in Urban Centres, as outlined in OCP Maps 4.2, 4.4, 4.6, 4.8, and 4.10.
TMP Policy 1.5 – Consider adding parking to multi-lane arterials during off-peak hours to increase parking availability and control speeding.
Adapt and respond to emerging technologies and shifting demand for parking (OCP Objectives 4.19 and 4.20)
As Urban Centres grow, the competition for space along the curb will increase. Sometimes, the most valuable use for curb space may be something other than parking cars. For example, during warmer months on-street parking can be converted to patios and seating areas which support businesses and add life to the street. Alternatively, parking for bikes, shared vehicles, or ride-hailing drop-off zones may provide better access to local businesses.
TMP Policy 1.6 – Manage increasing competition for curb space in our Urban Centres by seeking to optimize the highest and best use of this public space.
On-street parking is often full in some places and relatively empty in others. Rather than charging a blanket rate, new technologies are making it easier to adapt pricing dynamically by location and time of day to meet demand.
TMP Policy 1.7 – Consider varying parking prices by time, location, and season to achieve a target of approximately 85 per cent occupancy (typically one free space per block).
The Core Area generally refers to the flat part of the valley and neighbourhoods near our Urban Centres. The OCP anticipates about one-quarter of new housing will be in this area. Along Transit Supportive Corridors such as Glenmore Drive or Rutland Road, this may take the form of low-rise apartments. The rest of the Core Area will gradually fill in with secondary suites, carriage homes, four-plexes and row housing.
These neighbourhoods offer a middle ground between apartment living and suburban homes. Destinations are within walking or biking distance, and high-quality transit links them to Urban Centres.
The streets in the Core Area are some of the oldest in Kelowna. These neighbourhoods have good bones, but we can take actions to prepare them for the next century.
Create neighbourhood streets that are safe and comfortable for people to walk, bike and play on (OCP Objective 5.16)
Many streets in the Core Area have gravel shoulders instead of gutters for drainage, and no sidewalk. While these streets may have worked in the past, they will face challenges as neighbourhoods fill in and do not fulfill our current objectives. Core Area streets should be urbanized to include sidewalks and street trees. Street trees provide valuable shade reducing the need to water and air condition homes in the summer. They also improve the experience for people walking and biking and provide natural traffic calming.
TMP Policy 1.8 – Update Core Area streets with sidewalks, drainage, boulevards, and trees as neighbourhoods fill in. Explore implementation strategies and fair ways to share costs between developers, existing residents, and the City.
Create major streets that are walkable, support local retail and connect neighbourhoods to Urban Centres by car, bike and transit (OCP Objective 5.15)
In addition to needing neighbourhood streets that are better to walk on, Core Area residents will need safe places to cross busier streets to reach their destinations. Many major streets in the Core Area will also be Transit Supportive Corridors. People need to be able to safely walk along Transit Supportive Corridors and cross the street near bus stops for transit to work.
TMP Policy 1.9 – Ensure major streets in the Core Area include convenient and safe crossings for people walking, including near transit stops. In addition, consider the location of safe crossings when placing transit stops.
TMP Policy 1.10 – Provide wider sidewalks with street trees along Transit Supportive Corridors in the Core Area to ensure they are safe and attractive places to walk.
Highway 97 and Highway 33 are major streets in the Core Area that are under provincial jurisdiction. These two highways are the busiest corridors in the city and critical for the movement of goods. However, they can be challenging to cross on foot, by bike, or even by car. More than half of the trips made by Kelowna residents need to cross Highway 97 at some point.
TMP Policy 1.11 – Work with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to improve access across provincial highways for all modes.
The Gateway is a key regional employment centre. Institutions such as UBC Okanagan and Kelowna International Airport drive innovation and economic growth. Roughly one in five new jobs will be located here over the next 20 years. The number of students at UBC Okanagan could increase by 50 per cent.
Maintain access to goods movement and reduce dependence on the automobile where possible (OCP Objective 6.11)
UBC Okanagan is a major regional employer and destination for students. Transit is currently well used for travel to and from campus, while walking is common from nearby neighbourhoods. Improved connections and transit service between campus and neighbourhoods where students and faculty live should be pursued. Extension of transit service from UBC Okanagan could improve access to Kelowna International Airport.
Beyond the UBC Okanagan campus and surrounding area, the potential for transit in the Gateway is limited. It is challenging to provide lower-density industrial areas with transit service that can compete with driving.
TMP Policy 1.12 – Support the growth of UBC Okanagan by increasing transit service to the campus and nearby areas.
TMP Policy 1.13 - Work with BC Transit to find cost-effective ways to provide transit to the airport and industrial areas of the Gateway.
TMP Policy 1.14 – Improve active transportation connections within the Gateway and connect to the Okanagan Rail Trail and John Hindle Drive multi-use pathway.
Develop a well-connected street network to facilitate travel by alternate modes and reduce reliance on Highway 97 (OCP Objective 6.12)
Growth in the Gateway will lead to new jobs in aviation, manufacturing and other industries that are not suited for Urban Centres. Being near the edge of the city, most trips here will happen by private vehicle. These trips will increase traffic within the Gateway and through other parts of the city. Given the growth expected in the Gateway and limitations for walking, biking, and transit, we will need to find pragmatic ways to increase vehicle capacity. Significant investments in road infrastructure will be necessary to keep this area functioning well.
TMP Policy 1.15 – Support goods movement in the Gateway by working with the provincial government to find pragmatic ways to increase vehicle capacity and reduce reliance on Highway 97 in the Gateway.
TMP Policy 1.16 – Develop partnerships to fund the recommendations in the Okanagan Gateway Transportation Study.
TMP Policy 1.17 – Seek to balance the benefits of economic growth in the Gateway with the costs of new infrastructure required to support it.
For the first time, the Official Community Plan does not signal new land for outward expansion beyond neighbourhoods that are already approved. However, this does not mean suburban growth will stop. Approximately one-quarter of new homes will be in suburban neighbourhoods.
Many suburban neighbourhoods, such as Wilden, The Ponds, or Black Mountain, have significant amounts of approved growth remaining. Some older neighbourhoods may gradually fill in through lot splits, secondary suites, and carriage houses.
Most housing in suburban neighbourhoods is in the form of detached dwellings. Historically these kinds of houses have been called ‘single-family dwellings’, but roughly one-third of new homes contain a basement suite. Village Centres may have small retail hubs which provide day-to-day services and some low-rise apartments.
We are trying to complete these neighbourhoods in a way that mitigates their impact on the environment, traffic congestion, and the City’s financial health, while maintaining residents’ quality of life.
Create neighbourhood streets that are comfortable and safe for people to walk and play on (OCP Objective 7.9)
As suburban neighbourhoods grow and new connections are made, neighbourhood streets can become much busier than what they were designed for. Building on steep slopes often leads to a branching network of streets that concentrates traffic on the one route in and out of a neighbourhood (which leads to traffic and evacuation route concerns). Residents in these areas are concerned with the speed and volume of traffic on their previously quiet streets. Unfortunately, steep slopes and frequent driveways often limit our ability to add traffic calming.
TMP Policy 1.18 - Ensure new neighbourhood streets are designed to be safe and attractive places to live.
TMP Policy 1.19 - Consider the impacts of traffic from new subdivisions on existing neighbourhoods. This might involve being more proactive with traffic calming during subdivision applications, adopting new road standards, or considering emergency accesses rather than public streets, where feasible.
TMP Policy 1.20 – Improve walking and bicycling connections to schools, parks, and Village Centres in suburban neighbourhoods.
Mitigate the impact of suburban development
The impact of suburban development extends well beyond the neighbourhoods downstream. Continued outward growth negatively affects the environment, traffic congestion, and the City’s financial health.
Traffic congestion: Suburban neighbourhoods offer few options for getting around besides driving. The average suburban household drives two to six times further each day than a household in the Core Area. This means suburban neighbourhoods have a disproportionate impact on congestion and emissions in Kelowna.
While electric vehicles will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from suburban neighbourhood travel in the future, it will take many years for gas and diesel vehicles to be phased out, and the challenge with traffic congestion will remain.
Much of the traffic congestion in suburban neighbourhoods happens in places where many branches of neighbourhood streets converge, like streams joining to form a river. Traffic also tends to be highly concentrated at particular times of day, especially around school bell times in the morning. These delays are frustrating but very challenging to solve.
Expanding road infrastructure on the city edges may allow people to ‘get down the hill’ faster but may not help people get to destinations in the Core Area more quickly. When contemplating widening roads, we also need to consider the quality of life for people in the neighbourhoods the extra traffic will pass through.
TMP Policy 1.21 – Consider downstream impacts on traffic and nearby residents’ quality of life when assessing expansions to vehicle capacity to serve suburban neighbourhoods.
Maintenance liability: Continued outward growth has a financial impact on the City. For example, while developers pay most of the costs to build roads in new subdivisions, the City is responsible for long-term maintenance.
The challenge is that suburban neighbourhoods do not generate enough tax revenue to cover the maintenance (e.g., repaving, sweeping, and plowing) and eventual replacement of their infrastructure. This pattern has been documented across North America. It is one of the primary reasons we face an infrastructure deficit after decades of suburban growth.
Neighbourhoods in the Core Area have more homes and businesses to cover the costs of maintaining infrastructure. Meanwhile, rural areas have fewer people, but less infrastructure.
TMP Policy 1.22 - Recognize the long-term financial impacts of suburban development on the City’s infrastructure deficit.
TMP Policy 1.23 - Prioritize infrastructure in the Core Area where more people benefit, and the tax base is better able to cover the long-term maintenance costs.
Reduce dependence on the automobile where possible (OCP Objective 7.8)
We will continue to look for ways to provide more transportation options for suburban neighbourhoods. Adding commercial uses in Village Centres will shorten some driving trips for shopping and errands. However, most residents will still commute outside their neighbourhoods. Nearly all these trips will happen by vehicle during the most congested times of day. Since switching to other modes of travel for commuting will be difficult, we need to reduce the impact of driving.
TMP Policy 1.24 – Support the development of Village Centres in suburban neighbourhoods.
TMP Policy 1.25 – Focus on reducing peak hour vehicle travel from suburban neighbourhoods through policies and programs that encourage people to work from home, share rides, or drive at other times.
Many of the transportation challenges in suburban neighbourhoods are related to schools and the spikes of vehicle traffic during the morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up times.
TMP Policy 1.26 - Invest in programs that get more students in suburban neighbourhoods walking, biking, or taking the bus to school. Continue prioritizing safe walking and biking routes to schools.
TMP Policy 1.27 - Encourage the School District to locate future schools in places that lessen the impact on nearby major roads.
Over half of Kelowna’s land is dedicated to agriculture and rural uses. Protecting agriculture is one of the ten pillars of the 2040 OCP. This means stopping urban sprawl from encroaching on rural areas and limiting the impact of traffic on farming.
Supporting agriculture in the Rural Lands
While we are focusing new growth in the Core Area, it may still be necessary to build a new roads or widen existing roads near agricultural lands to support suburban development. When this occurs, we will seek to balance trade-offs and minimize the impact on agricultural lands through thoughtful planning and design.
TMP Policy 1.28 – Seek to balance trade-offs and minimize the impacts of roadway projects on agricultural lands through strategic planning and design.
Improving road safety
Many rural roads have tight corners and intersections at irregular angles with poor sightlines. Sidewalks and bike lanes are rare in rural areas. These are not necessarily issues when roads are quiet but can quickly become challenges when roads become busier. With limited growth expected in the Rural Lands, most increases in traffic will be related to development in nearby Suburban Neighbourhoods.
TMP Policy 1.29 – Prioritize safety improvements and consistent shoulders on rural roads with higher traffic volumes.
Before building new infrastructure, we need to make sure our existing infrastructure is well maintained. This includes repaving roads, fixing potholes, upgrading lighting, repairing sidewalks, landscaping, street sweeping, and snow clearing.
Currently, a little over 35 per cent of transportation funding goes toward maintenance and renewal. The amount of funding needed will increase as our existing infrastructure ages.
Many neighbourhoods in Kelowna were built 50 to 60 years ago. As a result, we will need to replace much of the infrastructure in them over the coming decades.
TMP Policy 2.1 – Prioritize renewal and enhancement of existing infrastructure over the construction of new infrastructure, where possible.
TMP Policy 2.2 – Continue improving methods for estimating the maintenance and long-term renewal costs of infrastructure.
TMP Policy 2.3 – Establish service level targets and a prioritization process for maintaining and renewing our existing infrastructure based on usage and desired levels of quality.
Increased funding and improved renewal forecasting needs are not the only ways to address the infrastructure deficit. We can avoid making the deficit bigger by better matching the amount of infrastructure in a neighbourhood with its financial capacity to maintain it.
TMP Policy 2.4 – Consider the financial capacity of neighbourhoods to support the long-term costs of infrastructure in planning decisions.
Renewal of City assets can sometimes be deferred or accelerated to line up with another City capital project or utility upgrade, or with a development’s utility upgrades. Coordinating renewal in this way prevents duplication of work and increases value for public investment.
TMP Policy 2.5 – Coordinate infrastructure renewal projects with other construction activities (City, development and utility-led) where applicable
With its relatively mild and dry winters, Kelowna has one of the best year-round climates in Canada for walking and biking. Keeping pathways clear will help people get around safely, particularly seniors and people with disabilities. Bike lanes are currently used to store snow in the winter, making year-round riding challenging.
TMP Policy 2.6 – Improve winter maintenance of sidewalks, bicycle lanes and pathways, prioritizing the most popular routes, to help extend the riding season.
Growing around transit corridors is one of the key pillars of the 2040 Official Community Plan. Transit has the highest people-moving capacity of all modes of travel. It is often the only alternative to driving for long-distance trips.
Kelowna’s transit system is a partnership with BC Transit. The City and BC Transit split operating costs, and the City keeps the fare revenue. We are responsible for transit infrastructure such as bus stops and exchanges.
Many residents have asked about the potential for a higher capacity transit system in Kelowna. While a Skytrain or LRT is still many decades away, we can start laying the groundwork today.
The Regional Transportation Plan examined this issue and identified Harvey Avenue as the corridor with the best potential for supporting higher capacity transit. The RTP recommends that the province further analyze and consider dedicated transit lanes on Harvey Avenue.
In the meantime, we can work to support higher capacity transit on Harvey Avenue by directing new homes and employment density along the corridor, while enhancing the existing bus service.
The former CN Rail corridor has been suggested as an alternative for higher capacity transit. While using this existing right-of-way may seem like a cost-effective option, the old rail line is far from most destinations and would not provide immediate access to our Urban Centres, where the highest densities of employment and residential development are directed. In addition, it would be hard to add new residents and jobs to the corridor, and there would be significant impacts to the existing Okanagan Rail Trail.
TMP Policy 3.1 - Work towards higher capacity transit on Harvey Avenue by building up existing bus service, directing new residents and jobs near stops, and collaborating with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.
A key component of the 2040 OCP is to grow along Transit Supportive Corridors (shown in OCP Map 3.1). These are corridors of low-rise apartments, with some commercial and mixed-use buildings, that will link Urban Centres and Village Centres. Adding new housing and employment ‘on the way’ between major destinations is a great way to support growth and build transit ridership.
Improving transit service will help increase the people-moving capacity of our Transit Supportive Corridors. More frequent service also means the bus is more likely to arrive when people need it.
Since most trips by transit begin on foot, walking along Transit Supportive Corridors needs to be comfortable. In addition, bus stops need to be clean, attractive, safe, and accessible. This may require additional width on the street. Safe places to cross the street are also critical for people to reach bus stops.
Without strong investment in transit service along Transit Supportive Corridors, Kelowna will not be able to grow without gridlock.
TMP Policy 3.2 – As growth is focused along Transit Supportive Corridors, add corresponding increases to transit service to support growth and build transit ridership.
TMP Policy 3.3 – Provide bus shelters and amenities along Transit Supportive Corridors that are clean, attractive, safe, and accessible for people with disabilities.
Kelowna’s streets will be busier in the future. Increased traffic congestion poses a significant challenge for funding transit. A single minute of delay can increase costs by tens of thousands over the course of a year.
Finding ways to separate buses from congestion can make transit faster, more reliable and reduce the cost of providing service. Transit priority measures can help and can include things like changing the timing of signals, transit ‘queue jump’ lanes at busy intersections, or dedicated transit lanes.
TMP Policy 3.4 – Apply transit priority measures along Transit Supportive Corridors, where appropriate.
TMP Policy 3.5 – Review bus stop locations to look for opportunities to combine or remove stops that are too close together.
TMP Policy 3.6 – Review existing and requested deviations from routes to ensure that the benefits – in terms of increased ridership and shorter walking distances – outweigh the added time for other customers.
Diesel buses produce significant amounts of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. A diesel bus is less sustainable than a pickup truck when carrying fewer than five people. Moving to electric buses will reduce emissions, save costs, and offer a smoother and quieter ride.
TMP Policy 3.7 – Support BC Transit’s efforts to electrify the transit fleet by 2040.
As ridership grows, using higher capacity buses (articulated or double-deckers) will be necessary to avoid leaving people behind because buses are full.
TMP Policy 3.8 – Design new bus stops, exchanges, intersections, and other transit facilities to accommodate high-capacity buses.
Transit service must balance two competing objectives: increasing ridership and expanding service coverage. On the one hand, trying to maximize ridership means focusing service on the busiest routes. On the other hand, covering a wide area means spreading service thin. Approximately 80 per cent of current service is on routes in the Core Area. The remainder goes toward coverage services that provide access for residents without other means of transportation.
TMP Policy 3.9 – Focus the bulk of new service investment on the best performing routes that offer the highest return in terms of emissions and congestion reduction.
Not all transit service is designed to attract high ridership. Some routes are primarily intended to provide ‘coverage’, or access for people without other options to get around. These are essential services that people depend on.
Most coverage routes are in Suburban Neighbourhoods. The many branching streets in these neighbourhoods make it difficult to bring buses close to peoples’ front door while keeping routes fast and direct. These lower ridership routes require larger subsidies since fewer fares are collected. As a result, we can often provide four or five hours of bus service to the Core Area for the same cost as one hour in the suburbs
One relatively unique aspect of Kelowna is that most low-income, older, or mobility-challenged residents live in the Core Area. Thus, while expanding transit coverage is important, focusing transit service in the Core Area will help support those who need it most. Focusing on the Core Area will also maximize the environmental benefits of transit.
TMP Policy 3.10 - Provide access to a base level of transit service (every 30 minutes during peak travel periods) in areas with densities that meet performance standards to ensure the financial viability of service (based on the Transit Service Guidelines - Central Okanagan Region).
On-demand transit is recommended in the Regional Transportation Plan and presents an opportunity to provide transit in areas where conventional fixed-route transit is not economically feasible, such as in low-density suburban and rural areas.
Many places in North America are experimenting with on-demand transit. The Province is currently studying the potential for on-demand transit in Kelowna. On-demand transit could take many forms, but would most likely be like hailing transit through your phone in real-time with algorithms helping identify other potential riders en route to or from the nearest transit exchange. This would help bring transit to suburban residents in a more cost-effective way and would also be more convenient for riders.
TMP Policy 3.11 – Work with BC Transit to explore new ways of providing on-demand transit service in places where base level, fixed-route transit service is not viable.
People need to feel safe and comfortable accessing transit. Kelowna has roughly 600 bus stops. Just over half are fully accessible for people with disabilities.
TMP Policy 3.12 – Ensure transit stops and the street network are designed to consider the needs of people of all ages and abilities, including people with disabilities.
The cost of a transit pass can be a significant expense for people who depend on transit for transportation. The cost of transit should also be competitive with driving to help provide an incentive to use it.
TMP Policy 3.13 – Ensure the cost of a monthly transit pass is less than the cost of a monthly parking pass at city-owned lots in the Downtown.
Kelowna is already one of the most popular places for biking in Canada. Given the climate, relatively flat terrain, and the high number of short trips residents make, biking has strong potential to grow.
The Pedestrian & Bicycle Master Plan set out a vision for a network of bike routes across the city. The Transportation Master Plan prioritizes actions to accelerate progress toward this vision over the next twenty years to make biking a convenient and enjoyable option for as many people as possible.
While active transportation corridors such as Cawston Avenue or Abbott Street are successful, they can take a long time to design and construct. To move faster, the City is adopting designs that do not require rebuilding the whole street. For example, the new bike lanes on Sutherland are at street level instead of raised at sidewalk level.
We will also be piloting “quick build” strategies using interim materials, such as concrete barriers or planter boxes, to deliver projects faster. Interim materials can be replaced with more permanent solutions in the future as funding becomes available. In the meantime, we can extend our network and make biking safer and convenient for more people.
TMP Policy 4.1 – Accelerate progress on the bike network by adapting designs and piloting quick-build infrastructure (in alignment with established design standards).
TMP Policy 4.2 – Continue to build out the primary and supporting bike networks as envisioned by the PBMP and TMP.
Neighbourhood bikeways are quiet streets with minimal vehicle traffic that are safe and comfortable for people biking and driving to share the road. A new type of facility for Kelowna, they are used in many communities around the world. They often use traffic calming measures to reduce speeds and cut-through traffic, giving priority to people bicycling. Crosswalk flashers or signals may be used at busy road crossings.
Detailed design guidance and criteria are included in the BC Active Transportation Design Guide, which identifies neighborhood bikeways as safe for people of all ages and abilities. As a lower cost facility type, they can help Kelowna accelerate completion of the bicycle network.
TMP Policy 4.3 – Implement neighbourhood bikeways to build out the bike network more quickly.
Biking is most attractive in the summer, making it a valuable relief valve when pressure on our road network is highest. While biking trips decrease in the colder months, people do continue to ride. During public engagement, we also heard that many more people would continue to ride if our bicycle network was better maintained during winter. We can support people riding for greater portions of the year through better lighting and better winter maintenance of our bicycle network.
TMP Policy 4.4 – Look for ways to extend the riding season by providing better lighting, enhanced winter maintenance, education on winter riding, and encouragement events.
Some of our most popular active transportation facilities, such as the Waterfront Pathway and Okanagan Rail Trail are shared between a variety of users travelling at different speeds. With increased use there is more competition for space on multi-use pathways and more potential for conflict between people walking, biking, and using other active modes (e.g. skateboards, e-scooters, roller skates). New strategies will be needed to improve how these spaces operate.
TMP Policy 4.5 – Plan for separating people walking from faster users (e.g., people biking or riding e-scooters), in accordance with design guidance recommendations for busy multi-use pathways.
TMP Policy 4.6 – Provide community education on how to share the path and trail etiquette as volumes of people using the City’s multi-use pathways increase.
The availability of safe bicycle parking and the risk of theft are factors that influence people’s choice to travel by bike. Providing secure bike racks, educating people on how to properly lock their bikes, and enforcement measures (e.g., bait bikes) can help reduce bicycle theft.
TMP Policy 4.7 – Install both short and long-term bike parking where there is demand and provide education to residents on proper locking techniques.
TMP Policy 4.8 – Work to understand trends related to bicycle theft in Kelowna and determine actions needed to reduce the occurrence of theft.
Neighbourhood streets are local and collector streets that provide access to homes and businesses and connect neighbourhoods to the major road network. As neighbourhoods fill in with new housing, there will be more activity on neighbourhood streets including people walking, biking, driving and parking. It is important for these streets to safely accommodate these many needs.
As neighbourhood streets get busier, controlling speeding will be critical to maintaining residents’ quality of life. Controlling speeding will be critical to maintaining residents’ quality of life.
Most neighbourhood streets in older Canadian cities have a shared driving lane where people pull over and slow down to pass one another. These streets control speeding and make neighbourhoods safer.
Lowering speed limits and altering the design of neighbourhood streets could improve safety. These and other possible actions will be studied in the Transportation Safety Strategy (Project ID 26).
TMP Policy 5.1 – Explore ways to control speeding on neighbourhood streets. This may include curb extensions, shared travel lanes, or traffic calming.
Many neighbourhood streets lack sidewalks and traffic calming. Updating these streets will be a long term effort. To accelerate progress in the short term, we can consider cost effective and quick-build solutions, such as traffic calming curbs or asphalt sidewalks, where appropriate.
TMP Policy 5.2 – Consider cost effective solutions for filling sidewalk gaps and building curb extensions to control speeding and make walking safer on neighbourhood streets.
The safety and attractiveness of neighbourhood streets will be key to making them pleasant places where people want to live. Trees are a vital component of making a street greener. They provide natural traffic calming and shade during the hotter months (reducing the need to water and cool homes). Community art can also make a street more attractive and welcoming.
TMP Policy 5.3 – Ensure neighbourhoods streets are designed to include a tree boulevard where possible, and work with infill developments to have trees included as part of frontage improvements.
TMP Policy 5.4 – Consider opportunities for placemaking on neighbourhood streets, for example with road murals or other community art initiatives. Ensure road paint is used to minimize environmental impact.
Many laneways in the Core Area are starting to function as neighbourhood streets with garages and entrances to carriage homes fronting laneways. The increased activity on these laneways may require future investments in drainage, pavement maintenance, or traffic calming.
TMP Policy 5.5 – Recognize the role of laneways as neighbourhood streets in areas where infill development is occurring. Monitor these laneways for potential retrofits and maintenance to accommodate the increase in people using them.
The road network is essential to goods movement and the economic prosperity of our city. Working to give residents more convenient options for getting around, in alignment with the TMP Vision, will help free up space on the road network to carry essential goods and trips that must be made by vehicle.
Over 2 million kilometres of travel happens on our roads each day. As Kelowna grows, traffic congestion threatens the movement of people and goods that are vital for our economy and quality of life. We know we cannot build our way out of congestion, so we must find ways to get the most out of our existing infrastructure. This means using our road space more efficiently, being strategic about new connections, maximizing the people-moving capacity of our streets and making them safer.
Streets also have value beyond moving people and goods. They support local businesses by providing attractive spaces to shop, work, or dine. Good street design can also make neighbourhoods more livable and more attractive places to visit.
Harvey Avenue is part of Highway 97, which is a provincial highway and serves as the transportation spine of the Okanagan. The corridor plays an important role in moving people and goods within Kelowna and connecting us to other parts of the province.
Within Kelowna, Harvey Avenue functions as one of the city’s ‘main streets’. Balancing these two roles for Harvey – highway and main street – is challenging. A highway provides mobility for vehicles by limiting obstacles such as crossing traffic, driveways, turning vehicles, or people walking and biking. A main street provides access for people to nearby businesses and destinations.
To align with Clean BC and the BC Economic Framework, it will be important to manage congestion along Harvey Avenue in a way that helps reduce emissions. A key strategy is to shift commuting trips to other modes to free up space for goods movement and other trips that need to be made by vehicle.
The Regional Transportation Plan identified Harvey Ave as the corridor with the greatest potential for higher capacity transit due to the number of people and jobs along the corridor. Higher capacity transit will increase the people moving capacity of Harvey Avenue, and develop it into a more efficient, multimodal transportation corridor. To be effective, Harvey Avenue also needs to incorporate the adjacent land use contexts along the corridor, incorporate strong bicycle and pedestrian connections to transit, and parallel facilities would be needed to help take local vehicle trips off the highway, where possible.
To realize this vision, the City will need to work collaboratively and in partnership with the Province to ensure Harvey Avenue can safely and efficiently move people and goods as the region grows.
TMP Policy 6.1 – Work with the Province to strengthen Harvey Avenue as a multi-modal transportation corridor that can safely and efficiently move people and goods as the region grows. Seek to integrate Harvey into the surrounding transportation network, with strong bicycle and pedestrian connections to transit, as well as parallel roads to help take local vehicle trips off the highway. (See related TMP Policy 3.1)
TMP Policy 6.2 – Promote safety for all on Harvey Avenue by controlling vehicle speeds, protecting people outside of cars, and incorporating safe crossings.
Kelowna’s geography makes it difficult to expand our roads. Steep hillsides, lakes, environmentally sensitive areas and protected agricultural lands limit where roads can go along the city’s edges. There is little room to widen roads in the Core Area without buying land, tearing down homes, or disrupting local businesses. While the City is planning some new connections and road widenings, we need to find ways to make the most of our existing road space. This means maximizing the number of people that can move along a street, as opposed to the traditional focus on moving vehicles. A person walking, biking, or riding transit takes up much less space than a person driving.
TMP Policy 6.3 – Invest in transit and the primary bike network to increase the number of people that can travel on the City’s road network.
TMP Policy 6.4 – Invest in signal system optimization to reduce delay and associated emissions.
TMP Policy 6.5 – Time traffic signals to maximize the people-moving capacity of intersections, not just vehicles.
Driveways can create conflict points posing challenges to safe and efficient operation of arterial roads. Limiting the number of driveways can help arterial roads operate more smoothly and safely.
TMP Policy 6.6 – Look for ways to manage access on arterial roads such as combining driveways or providing access from laneways or side streets. Implement turn restrictions, when necessary.
Roundabouts have safety and environmental benefits. In many cases, they are more time efficient and less expensive to maintain than traffic signals. However, they often require more land, which makes them challenging to add to existing streets.
TMP Policy 6.7 – Consider roundabouts as the first option for intersections over adding new traffic signals.
The estimated cost of traffic collisions in Kelowna ($600 million each year) is greater than the cost of traffic congestion ($330 million each year). The amount of driving in a community is highly correlated with the number of traffic-related injuries and deaths.
The conventional approach to road safety has been to simplify streets. Making streets wider, straighter, and removing potential obstacles reduces the frequency of collisions. Unfortunately, these changes encourage people to drive faster, increasing the severity of collisions when they do happen.
People will make mistakes while driving. However, the consequences of those mistakes should not be serious injuries or fatalities. Just three per cent of collisions involve a person walking or biking – but these account for over half the deaths on our streets. Seniors and people with disabilities are also at a much higher risk.
Optimizing travel times is important, however allowing people to drive faster is not always worth the added risk of injury or death. Streets may move a little bit slower, but ensuring everyone gets where they need to go safely is the priority.
TMP Policy 6.8 – Reduce the number of injuries and deaths from collisions on Kelowna’s streets.
TMP Policy 6.9 – Promote safety for all by controlling speeding, protecting people outside of vehicles and shifting car trips to other modes, where feasible.
TMP Policy 6.10 – Focus on safety when redesigning intersections, with a greater focus on people walking and riding bicycles.
TMP Policy 6.11 – Accommodate people walking and bicycling in all new designs, and where possible with retrofit designs, by following applicable guidance such as the British Columbia Active Transportation Design Guide.
As congestion increases on our major roads, demand will exceed available capacity at key locations. This increase in demand can also exacerbate existing safety challenges.
TMP Policy 6.12 – Evaluate and prioritize safety improvements as part of new transportation capital projects. For major capital projects, complete independent road safety audits.
With most of our growth expected in the Core Area, construction activity will be commonplace in existing neighbourhoods. Construction activity will need to include safe and accessible accommodation for the increasing number of people walking and biking in these areas.
TMP Policy 6.13 – Ensure traffic control plans for construction on public property demonstrate accessibility and connectivity for people walking and biking through construction zones, as specified in the City’s Traffic Management Guide.
We often focus on the “bottlenecks” or the places with the worst congestion, but we need to think about roads as a system. An analogy is to think about traffic like water flowing through a series of pipes. The narrowest point in the pipe will govern the flow of water. Widening the pipe at the narrowest point may allow more water to flow. However, it could create a new bottleneck further along. For roads, these bottlenecks are often at intersections.
The City has historically focused more on widening roads than intersections. The rising cost of acquiring land along corridors makes this approach challenging. Since intersections govern traffic flow in urban areas, expanding intersections can be a more cost-effective way to increase vehicle capacity.
TMP Policy 6.14 – Focus on intersections first when considering expanding vehicle capacity.
However, we need to be thoughtful when expanding vehicle capacity. Trying to address one bottleneck may create a new one downstream that is more difficult or expensive to fix. As a result, we may be shifting traffic around rather than saving people time.
TMP Policy 6.15 – Consider both upstream and downstream constraints when making changes to the road network.
A lack of connected streets makes it harder to move around. Drivers are forced to use arterial roads even if they are only going around the block. Parking and deliveries become more disruptive on busier arterials compared to quieter streets.
TMP Policy 6.16 – As development occurs in Urban Centres and the Core Area, look for opportunities to fill in the network with new streets and laneways to improve connectivity for all modes.
TMP Policy 6.17 – Establish parallel streets to reduce reliance on Provincial highways.
The chance of running into traffic forces people to leave early to make sure they arrive at their destination on time. When travel delays are less predictable, the more ‘buffer time’ people need to add to their schedules. Making travel times more predictable can often save people more time than just reducing overall delays.
TMP Policy 6.18 – Consider travel time reliability in addition to average travel times when making changes to the road network.
TMP Policy 6.19 – Explore ways to share the road network performance with motorists to help inform their travel decisions.
Historically the City has tried to combine projects and rebuild entire streets at once as was done for the complete rebuild of Bernard Avenue. The ‘whole street at a time’ approach can be more efficient - but often means we wait longer before acting. So, while we will continue looking for ways to combine projects, we will also find opportunities to make smaller changes more quickly.
TMP Policy 6.20 - Look for opportunities to make smaller changes to roads more quickly, using quick build materials to reduce costs where appropriate.
Traffic volumes in Kelowna vary significantly throughout the year. For example, mornings are busiest in the winter. Midday and afternoon peaks are busier in the summer due to increased traffic from tourism and recreation. We typically design our road infrastructure for expected demand in the spring and fall to represent an average condition for the year.
TMP Policy 6.21 – Continue using the spring and fall shoulder season as the reference when designing traffic infrastructure.
Not all investments in transportation involve building and maintaining infrastructure. Many of the transformative changes coming over the next two decades will rely more on knowledge, understanding and on software rather than hard infrastructure. Our policy response to these changes will have a concrete impact on how people get around.
The pandemic demonstrated the possibilities and benefits of remote working, resulting in less travel during peak hours.
TMP Policy 7.1 – Encourage major employers to explore Travel Demand Management (TDM) strategies such as remote working for their employees.
Efforts to reduce the amount of driving can be complemented by working to reduce emissions from idling vehicles. Bylaws, education, and promotional campaigns can help people reduce unnecessary vehicle idling in support of climate and clean air objectives.
TMP Policy 7.2 – Recognize that vehicle idling creates noise, odour, and harmful emissions. Work to reduce vehicle idling in Kelowna in alignment with the Central Okanagan Clean Air Strategy.
There are opportunities to improve many elements of our transit system, from trip planning to payment options. Cashless fare payment is becoming more commonplace and can eliminate the hassle of paying with cash or purchasing passes from retailers. Other agencies are bundling transit fares with other modes of transportation, such as ride-hailing or shared mobility options (e.g., e-scooters). These actions can make transit easier to use and grow ridership for less investment than increasing transit service levels.
Access to affordable transit passes can also help remove barriers to taking transit and incentivize ridership.
TMP Policy 7.3 – Support innovative fare payment policies and multi-modal fare integration.
TMP Policy 7.4 – Work with major employers and post-secondary institutions to expand transit passes to their employees or students.
Emerging technologies, such as ride-hailing, carshare, e-bikes, and e-scooters offer new ways for people to get around. These options can help support car-light living by providing a back-up option if you miss your bus or need a vehicle for a specific trip.
TMP Policy 7.5 - Continue to expand and refine the Micromobility Permit Program. Look for ways to offer more types of vehicles, cover more neighbourhoods and provide more equitable access to service.
New mobility technologies and services offer opportunities for a more equitable transportation system. They can also worsen existing divides. For example, most new shared services require a smartphone and a credit card, making it harder for people with lower-incomes or less access to technology to use them.
TMP Policy 7.6 – Structure shared mobility policy and programs to offer more equitable service for low-income or unbanked residents, people with limited access to technology, and people with disabilities.
Electric vehicles will help reduce tailpipe emissions and are a critical part of taking action on climate.
TMP Policy 7.7 – Recognize that electric vehicles will help reduce tailpipe emissions and are an important part of meeting climate objectives. Support implementation of Kelowna’s Community Electric Vehicle & E-Bike Strategy, including electrification of taxi, ride-hailing, carshare, and City-owned fleets.
Around half of K-12 students are driven to school each day. This reduces children's activity and adds to emissions and traffic congestion.
TMP Policy 7.8 – Continue prioritizing locations near schools when considering new sidewalks, protected bicycle lanes, crosswalks, or traffic calming.
Transporting students by school bus eliminates a large number of vehicle trips. Instead of dozens of parents doing pick up and drop off at a school, these trips can be replaced by a few buses. School busing is a cost-effective way to reduce both traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions.
Many of the requests to expand public transit into new neighbourhoods come from parents. In some cases, adding more school bus service would be more cost-effective and convenient for students than expanding public transit. Public transit could play a more significant role in getting older students to school.
School districts are not obligated to provide busing, and the provincial government covers only a small portion of transportation costs. SD23 currently offers to bus students who live more than 3 kilometres (elementary) or 4km (middle/secondary) away from school. This leaves out many students who are also too far away to walk or bike. Lowering the distance threshold for busing students and considering other criteria such as steep grades or the need to cross major roads, could benefit many families, help reduce congestion, and support climate objectives.
TMP Policy 7.9 – Work with School District 23 to find ways to increase the number of students taking either school buses or public transit to school.
Many vehicles on the road in 2040 might be driverless. Many will likely belong to ride-hailing services, while others may belong to transport and delivery services.
A driverless future offers many benefits. The prospect of on-demand, driverless mobility offers more convenient travel options and more independence for youth, the elderly, and people with disabilities. Connected vehicles could communicate with each other and use road space much more efficiently.
On-demand vehicles could free up lots of space currently used for parking, as only five per cent of the vehicles we own today are in use at any given time. Self-driving vehicles will also likely be electric, reducing their environmental impact.
However, many driverless vehicles on the road will be unoccupied. These ‘zero-occupancy trips’ where vehicles move between pick-ups, drop-offs and deliveries can pose a challenge. Currently, there is an upper limit on congestion: people must be willing to sit in traffic. This limit will not apply to driverless vehicles without any passengers. This could lead to increased traffic congestion as more people travel and empty vehicles circulate.
New mobile businesses and more deliveries could also dramatically increase the number of vehicles on the road in a driverless future. With more deliveries and passenger pick-ups and drop-offs, there will also be a greater demand for curb space.
It will be important to seek to optimize the benefits of driverless vehicles while minimizing these and any other negative impacts.
TMP Policy 7.10 – Look for ways to use the efficiency gains from self-driving vehicles to reprioritize street space for people.
TMP Policy 7.11 – Ensure that self-driving vehicles do not increase risks for people walking and biking.
TMP Policy 7.12 – As self-driving vehicles become more common, look for ways to discourage zero-occupancy trips.
TMP Policy 7.13 – As more demands are placed on curb space, implement strategies to proactively manage and optimize the use of this resource.
In some cases, such as the Micromobility Permit Program, the City is able to control how new services operate. In other cases, such as ride-hailing and driverless vehicles, senior governments will likely take the lead. It will be important to learn from other communities as new transportation services evolve.
TMP Policy 7.14 – Prepare to adapt quickly to rapid technology change and regulatory shifts from senior governments.