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McKinley Landing residents call for accessible waterfront park

Another residents’ association group in the north end of Kelowna wants the city to secure an accessible waterfront park as part of the planned residential development connecting the Clifton and McKinley Landing neighbourhoods.

Brad Dahl, president of the McKinley Landing Residents Association, says  the development represents the last opportunity to secure a waterfront park in the northern end of the city.

Dahl cited the areas along the Mission lakeshore, from Bertram Creek Park to Gyro Beach and Rotary Beach, further along to Kinsmen Park and ultimately City Park as community assets the north end of the city won’t have past Knox Mountain Park.

That is unless a deal is struck between the city and Melcor to ensure a park with beach access is part of the development.

“We are not against development,” Dahl said of his association.

“We realize that development is inevitable that will open up our area to more residents and more traffic…we just want to be done in a positive way.”

Along with the beach park issue, Dahl noted a second road access into McKinley Landing is likely to increase traffic, both for new residents and motorists passing back and forth between Glenmore and other areas of the city.

“We think that if people have the choice of driving this new road or taking the existing Glenmore Road, they will choose the new route as it will be a very scenic drive,” Dahl said.

As well, the proposed John Hindle connector route between Glenmore Road and UBC Okanagan through to Highway 97, will also open up the area to more traffic and development.

“We recognize the benefits from these changes. Our property values will likely go up and the fire safety issue can be resolved with a second road access,” Dahl said, reflecting on the current winding McKinley Road access into the subdivision that has been accident prone in recent years.

“We do not have our heads buried in the sand…we just want to make sure plans are adequate and in place for future growth and future needs as taxpayers and citizens.”

The issue of the park location was raised by the Clifton Highlands Community Association earlier this month after noting that the area structure plan for the 200-single family home project had moved the park site from its original location.

The association raised concerns that the original flatter land in the southwest corner of the Melcor Development had been switched for another area with a steeper grade, limited beach access and limited parking access in the northwest corner off the Dewdney Road #1 Beach Access.

The association wants the city to think long-term about the opportunity to create a waterfront park in the northern shoreline of the city that is accessible  to the public such as the numerous parks created along the Pandosy-Mission shoreline.

Andy Bruce, heading up the development plans for Melcor in Kelowna, has admitted the park location change came after the Edmonton-based company officials did a final review of the development plan prior to it being submitted to city hall and opted for a new park location.

Dahl said he was not surprised the park location changed because of the development potential for the initial site, but he feels the new location could be workable if it was expanded, meaning the city acquire more proposed lots to improve the size of and access to a park.

“One of the concerns I have is for the potential to stratify the land where the park was originally designated,” said Dahl.

“That would make sense from Melcor’s perspective because it would increase the yield on a desirable piece of property for building.

“But when I think of strata, I think gated community which means cutting off public access to a prime potential park beachfront location.”

That’s why Dahl says his association wants to see the city sign off on a development plan that reflects some long-term planning “style, class and foresight.”

“If you look at Abbott Street, and how the city had to start buying back expensive waterfront lots, lop off the waterfront portion of the property and sell the backend, how complicated and slow a process that is over time,” Dahl said.

“Here is an opportunity now to set aside land for a park that will be cheap now compared to 20 years from now, where a magnificent park on the lake can be created, where the (Development Cost Charges) that developers pay to the city can go towards something tangible.

“It will take some negotiating to make that happen, but there can be ways to make it work.”

Melcor is expected to submit its final area structure plan for the development at some point in September.

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