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Cedar Avenue land issue back on Kelowna's drawing board
The issue of what to do with seven city-owned waterfront properties in south Pandosy, an issue which ignited a firestorm of public protest three years ago, has resurfaced.
But this time, the city says it plans to sit down with stakeholders from the community to try and figure out what to do with the lands that became collectively known as "Cedar Avenue" after one of the roads nearby.
While the original plan called for some of the property in question to be developed and other parts to be used as waterfront parkland, opponents mobilized protestors and convinced the council of the day to defeat a proposed rezoning and stop the project because it was not all to be park.
So the city now plans what it is calling an "engagement process," which was approved by city council Monday afternoon.
City Hall says it will work with community to craft a new plan for properties, located on the waterfront along Abbott Street, between Cedar Avenue and Newsom Avenue. The redevelopment of the seven properties is listed as one of council’s priorities for 2014.
“We understand there were concerns with the last version of the site plan and we are ready to take another look,” said Mayor Walter Gray. “A lot has changed since the project was last before the community in 2011."
Shortly after being elected in 2012, Gray said the Cedar Avenue issue was one he would like to see resolved by his new council in its first term. And, based on the aggressive timeframe set by city staff, that may very well happen.
The plan is to start working on the public engagement process as early as next week, pick 25 to 30 members of the public and stakeholders to participate in a charrette in late February and report back with a proposal to council for approval by April. Implementation would be complete by October.
As part of the framework going into the engagement process, council endorsed a set of eight project parameters, or guidelines, for the redevelopment. They include:
• Accommodating the Kelowna Paddle Centre within redevelopment scenarios, including up to 5,000 square feet of space. The city approved use of part of the site by The Kelowna Outrigger Club's paddle centre last year.
• Financial viability—Complete the development with no additional tax impact and consider development options which result in a financial return to the city for further reinvestment opportunities in the community.
• Incorporate a park and waterfront walkway as an integral parts of the site.
• Incorporate park and pedestrian connections to current and anticipated developments.
• Design the site and buildings to meet bylaw requirements for parking in future zoning.
• Respect required riparian setbacks.
• Complete public engagement and any required rezoning by the fall of 2014.
“The engagement process will kick off next week, including a two-day charrette or urban design workshop at the end of February,” said Graham Hood, strategic land development manager.
“We recognize that we need broad community involvement, so we’ll round out the process with our online engagement tool, an open house and public review sessions at the end of each charrette day.”
Members of council welcomed the move to bring the issue back, including Coun. Luke Stack, who was the only member of council present at Monday's meeting who served on the previous council that killed the 2011 rezoning. (Fellow councillors Andre Blaneil and Robert Hobson were not present as Blanleil was absent and Hobson has a conflict of interest and cannot be part of the decision making on this issue.)
"I'm pleased to see this moving forward," said Stack. "Hopefully we can come up with a plan that the whole community can get behind."
When the issue was last before council, it divided the public. Some in the community wanted it all to be a park, while others agreed with the city that part should be developed to provide the city with money to create the park.
Rallies were held by opponents, letters protesting the city's plan were published in local newspapers and opponents spoke out on radio talk shows.
The council of the day, already seen by some as indecisive, was blasted by both sides for its response to the issue. A reminder of council's action was even resurrected during the 2012 municipal election by opponents of incumbents running for re-election.