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City of Kelowna, Regional District of the Central Okanagan, Westbank First Nations
Started 1999, ongoing
The Central Okanagan is one of B.C.’s fastest growing areas. With an excellent quality of life and a booming high tech industry the region’s current population of 150,000 is expected to grow by another 80,000 by 2020.
To maintain livability and community mobility, the City of Kelowna forged a unique partnership with the Regional District and was later joined by Westbank First Nations to develop and implement a region-wide Transportation Demand Management (TDM) program. Administered by the City’s Transportation Department, the TDM program is widely regarded as the most developed program outside of Greater Vancouver.
With a goal of reducing peak period automobile traffic in the region by 12% by 2013 relative to trend growth in traffic volumes, the City of Kelowna has implemented a number of TDM programs and policies since it was initiated in 1999.
Together the programs have helped the region reduce single occupant vehicle use in favour of increased transit ridership, increased cycling and pedestrian movement, carpooling, trip combining, and off-peak travel.
The TDM group has a regional operating budget of $235,000. This supports 2.5 staff, and numerous programs.
Jerry Dombowsky, Transportation Demand Supervisor
City of Kelowna
City of Kelowna (www.city.kelowna.bc.ca)
Transportation in Kelowna is constrained by lakes and mountains
Located in the heart of B.C.’s wine country about 400 kilometers east of Vancouver, the Central Okanagan region is one of the province’s fastest growing regions, a major regional service centre and a year-round tourist destination. More recently, the area has become know locally as the “Silicon Vineyard,” as the region’s high quality of life and proximity to major markets has attracted over 200 high-tech firms over the past few years.
Currently, the Central Okanagan is home to 158,500 residents. The population of the regions is expected to grow by an additional 80,000 by the year 2020 with a mix of job seekers and retirees fueling the majority of the growth. Kelowna is the largest city in the region with a current population of 103,400.
Beginning in 1995, TDM has been given formal consideration in both municipal Official Community Plans (OCPs) and regional planning documents in the Central Okanagan. Some of the key municipal and regional policy documents which incorporate and support TDM include:
The Regional District of the Central Okanagan is home to over 91,000 registered vehicles. With each household traveling over 30,000 kilometers per year per car, the region has the unique distinction of being the most automobile dependent in B.C. Currently, 68% of Kelowna City Centre residents and 85% of suburban residents drive to work in single-occupant vehicles.
This auto dependence has strained the local transportation network – much of which can not be easily expanded due to the region’s lakes, mountains, narrow valleys and protected agricultural land. It has also led to increased road congestion, growing air pollution and has eroded the region’s enviable quality of life.
With estimates of an additional 200,000 auto trips per day in Kelowna alone by 2020, the region’s governments agreed that action would have to be taken to maintain the area’s livability over the long term and to reduce the number of single occupant vehicles in the region.
The overall goal of the Central Okanagan Transportation Demand Management (TDM) program is to reduce single-occupant automobile usage. In particular, the program seeks to:
In 1998, the Regional District, the City of Kelowna and the Province developed a business plan for a regional TDM program. Key elements of the plan included a regional structure for the program, measurable goals for reducing single occupant vehicle use and a range of tools to accomplish those goals.
New roads alone will not solve the region's transportation challenges
The business plan was followed up in 1999 by the signing of a partnership agreement between the Regional District and City of Kelowna to implement the TDM program. In the agreement, the Regional District takes on Regional TDM as a new function and contracts the City of Kelowna to provide the service. In 2000, Westbank First Nations, located within the geographical boundaries of the Regional District, joined the TDM program as a participating partner.
Regional TDM programs and policy initiatives are now coordinated by a TDM Working Group in the City’s Transportation Division. The Working Group’s mandate is to reduce the need to build new roads by reducing vehicle trips and road space demand through programs and policies that influence travel choices and the amount and timing of travel.
Since 1999, the TDM division has been instrumental in realizing a number of new programs, plans and initiatives. Some of the highlights include:
Finally, three new hybrid electric/diesel buses (40 foot Low Flyers) will be added to the fleet in 2005 as part of a town centre express service and will help test of the fuel efficient, low emission technology.
A cyclist unloads their bicycle at Kelowna's main transit terminal
The City of Kelowna has authorized the City Land Department to commence negotiations with CN for acquisition of the right of way required for the commuter cycling/pedestrian trail. The commuter rail option is a long term strategy which is being recognized in the Okanagan Valley Transportation Plan currently under development.
Given the breadth of programs and initiatives now underway, Kelowna’s Regional TDM Program is widely regarded as B.C.’s most comprehensive outside of the Greater Vancouver area. The regional program has achieved a number of important results. These include:
Development and implementation of the region’s TDM initiatives has involved all of the municipalities in the Central Okanagan region and a number of other programming and funding partners. Some of the key partners include:
An annual operating budget of $235,000 supports 2.5 staff positions and provides resources or the various programs and promotions throughout the year.
Non-automobile transportation systems have also been supported by dedicated annual funding. The City of Kelowna provides $600,000 annually for bike lanes and $500,000 annually for provision of sidewalks. These contributions are separate from road development standards which require bike lanes and sidewalks on all new collector class or arterial roads.
The TDM group has been successful in acquiring numerous provincial and federal grants and contributions towards projects and programs. This participation is an integral part of TDM funding and currently averages over $200,000 per year.
The Central Okanagan Regional TDM Program has evolved over a number of years. Key events are outlined below.
1995. TDM endorsed by Okanagan Valley Transportation Plan and City of Kelowna Transportation Plan
1998. City of Kelowna and Regional District of the Central Okanagan develop regional TDM Business Plan
1999. TDM Division created in City of Kelowna to manage regional TDM programs
2000. Central Okanagan Regional Growth Strategy identifies TDM as a major community mobility tool
2004. City of Kelowna update the transportation component of its OCP to incorporate additional TDM measures and strategic policy directions
Some of the lessons learned in developing and implementing regional TDM policies and programs include:
The TDM Working Group is continuing in their efforts to improve transportation choices in the Kelowna region. Major new initiatives will focus on implementing a U-pass program for the new UBC campus under development in Kelowna and continued evaluation of current programs, including the hybrid bus program.
Images are courtesy the City of Kelowna
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