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Kelowna downtown refreshing seeks compromise

City planners are making headway in their aims to refresh Kelowna’s downtown plan.

And as they slog through issues, like building heights, they’re asking the community get ready to discuss the issues with an open mind.

“It’s definitely going to be a matter of compromise,” said Patrick McCormick, city planner, of the process that will require various groups to come to the table.

“We hope stakeholders will come in without drawing lines in the sand.”

Already talks are underway with key interested groups—like the Downtown Kelowna Association and various city committees—but by May the city will dig into the process even further.

That’s when they’ll be bringing in consultation experts to discuss the fundamentals of a strong downtown with participants in an event they’ve called the World Cafe Conversation.

It will be followed by an open house in June, and all the way through they’ll be garnering input through various online tools, that have yet to be developed.

Overall the lengthy public input element to the downtown plan is a relatively new tack, and aimed at ensuring the majority is on the same page by the time the plan hits a public hearing.

The plan is actually a guide, more than a map of things to come, but it plays a big part in how the city is shaped.

The last one, which was completed in 2000, achieved 80 per cent of the goals laid out, with relative ease.

That said, other attempts to mould the city haven’t gone so smoothly.

The CD-21, city staff stressed, was an entirely different beast, but most locals know how that story went, and what a division it caused within the city.

“Height was largely a divisive issue,” said Jim Paterson, the city’s general manager of sustainability. “But that was location specific…there’s a lot more consensus than most people would be led to believe.”

He went on to point out that the ill-fated CD-21 Zone was an exercise in “irrational exuberance.”

“When it started people thought it would have been a 15-year plan, but it would have been 40 years to complete,” he said, explaining market conditions made it untenable.

“(The downtown plan) is more public realm related.”

To stay abreast of the issues, go to Kelowna.ca,   click on the city projects link and find the downtown plan.

 

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