Kelowna council pleased with preliminary plans for Clement Avenue extension

Planning for the Clement Avenue extension to Highway 33 has been ongoing since 2011

Although it comes with challenges, Kelowna council is impressed with plans to extend Clement Avenue.

Those plans, presented to council on July 8, include building retaining walls, environmental considerations, and working around the Okanagan Rail Trail and a major natural gas pipeline.

Staff told council the extension to Highway 33 would increase vehicle capacity through mid-town, taking some of the pressure off Highway 97.

Concept plans suggest two to four through lanes from Spall to Highway, with additional lanes at intersections.

Councillor Rick Webber was surprised that four lanes were not automatically recommended.

“I hear you haven’t made a final decision and I’m not sure, in the end, if there is room. Nevertheless, I’m behind it.”

Coun. Maxine DeHart noted she has been waiting for extension plans since 2011 and praised staff for the report.

“You know what challenges you’re going to have and not going to have, and it’s too bad it’s only two lanes.”

There was a sense of urgency from several councillors for the project to start.

“I do believe this needs to get going because of the density we’re seeing downtown and creating a redundancy to Highway 97 as well,” Coun. Loyal Wooldridge added.

Preliminary design work on the Clement Ave. extension is to start later this year and is expected to be completed by mid-2025.

Historical concepts were a northern route that bypassed the city and a southern partial bypass. Both required a second crossing over Okanagan Lake.

Staff told council that a 2015 provincial study of W.R. Bennett Bridge found that nearly 90 per cent of traffic wanted to start or end trips in Kelowna, undermining the bypass concept.

A 2023, provincial vision for the region did not support a second crossing for at least 20 years, favouring the Clement extension and transit improvements on Highway 97 instead.

Gary Barnes

About the Author: Gary Barnes

Journalist and broadcaster for three decades.
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