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Thomson Flats coming to Kelowna's Mission area

A new development plan for an area dubbed the Thomson Flats will likely proceed in the Mission.

On Monday, Kelowna city council voted 5:4 to move forward with an area structure plan that would plan for 1400 more single-family homes in an area book-ended by Gordon Drive and Chute Lake Road.

The plan itself is controversial, even according to city staff, who acknowledged drafting in more development in the Southwest Mission effectively increases urban sprawl; but the council didn't see it that way.

"Just because we agree to an area structure plan process isn't a tacit approval that we're waiting for applications (from developers)," cautioned Mayor Walter Gray.

Councillor Robert Hobson was of the opposite opinion, along with Councillors Gail Given, Luke Stack and Mohini Singh.

Citing the upcoming Official Community Plan review as a more appropriate time to debate the new area, and concerns that it rubber-stamps a hodgepodge approach to city planning, they put the development community on notice applications would not pass easily, even if the plan is in place.

Hobson said he would "feel a little comfort in knowing there are restrictions" worked into the city's planning for the Thomson Flats to avoid the possibility of flooding the market with new homes, and asked for assurances development proposals would not come in a leap-frog manner. He noted the first proposals to arrive before councillors from the Glenmore area were from the more far-flung regions, making providing the necessary city services a problem.

General manager of community sustainability Doug Gilchrist noted restrictive covenants could be placed on properties, along with other measures, to avoid such complications.

Thomson Flats will need to go to public hearing, and two more readings, and a subsequent bylaw will also come forward to amend the Official Community Plan before the area can be added to city planning maps.

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