Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Kelowna, Sprawl, and HOV Lanes

This long weekend I was back in Kelowna, my Birthplace. I haven’t been there for about 4 years, and I’m amazed at the amount of sprawl they have built in such short order. Living in Langley, it makes our sprawl look like compact, complete communities! Kelowna and West Kelowna proudly have the two largest Wal-Mart Supercenters in Canada and have so much commercial floor space that some stores are moving from one Power Centre to another, leaving empty buildings behind. I even saw a few businesses that have gone belly-up in Power Centre Land. It’s not all bad news thought.

Kelowna is also embracing mixed-use in its downtown core. There are now more new mixed-use buildings in downtown Kelowna, then when I lived in the Okanagan (for the first 18 years of my life.) More are on the way. Also the Province actually removed a general purpose travel lane on Highway 97 through Kelowna for HOV/Bus Lanes. They are also building a B-Line type bus service from Downtown Kelowna to UBC Okanagan where all student have a U-Pass. You can now take public transit from Downtown Kelowna to Downtown Vernon which is something you couldn't do when I was growing up.


Corey said...

I think increasingly governments are thinking (hoping? or maybe hedging their bets) that they can have their cake and eat it too - walkable communities remade from the pre-1950s city (old downtowns etc), and sprawl everywhere else.

In my opinion, cars work well with the pre-1950 city (as Vancouver shows), but conversely, people don't work well with the automobile city, aka sprawl.

So why don't we build like we used to? Why continue to build in a way that only fulfills half our needs?

Social inertia?

Nathan Pachal said...

You're right. I get the feeling that many local governments draw a circle on their OCP and say "in this area will we shall be sustainable." Everywhere else, let's be about motordom to use a Gordon Price term. It really is a classic example of insanity.