Earlier this spring the BC government allocated $10.2M to the City of West Kelowna through the BC Growing Communities Fund (BCGC). Community size and financial pressure due to growth were considerations in the allocation of the funds.
According to Jen Ford, president, Union of B.C. Municipalities, the BCGC funds are intended to support projects by directing funds to the most urgent priorities identified in each community.
These funds will be placed in a daily high-interest investment account according to a new Growing Communities Reserve Establishment Bylaw. The city will research long-term investment vehicles for appropriate terms and interest.
At the May 23rd Council meeting, city staff confirmed the funds are currently in an investment account earning approximately 5.3% interest. Council Stephen Johnston responded, “I am happy to hear that our money is growing while we wait and decide what to do with it.”
City of West Kelowna 2020-2026 Strategic Priorities.
The Vision of the City of West Kelowna 2022-2026 Strategic Priorities (WKSP) is to make West Kelowna a welcoming, safe and inclusive place. Its mission states the city will provide, in fiscally responsible ways, the facilities, infrastructure and services required to meet the evolving needs of the community. Fiscal responsibility refers to financial solutions that minimize impact property tax.
Investment in Infrastructure, one of the four pillars in the WKSP refers to the city commitment to invest in building, improving, and maintaining infrastructure to meet the needs of current and future generations. This includes a commitment to improve the City’s network of roads, sidewalks, cycle paths, transit infrastructure and multi-use trails to optimize connectivity throughout WK.
Two of the city’s WKSP Transportation initiatives include:
Upgrades to the Old Okanagan Highway /Butt intersection
Upgrades to Shannon Lake Road from the south boundary of the WFN to the Shannon Lake Regional Park
A lack of capital reserve has been a long-time challenge of the city in its attempt to address the latent demand for transportation infrastructure improvements.
With the "Invest in Infrastructure" in mind, there is hope council will apply the BC Growing Community Fund to these capital projects to reduce the transportation infrastructure deficit and leverage Development Cost Charges (DCC) funds.