Kelowna city staff turns their attention to downtown area dubbed the Civic Block

The area around city hall, which contains several public buildings, will be the subject of a new city plan.

With construction set to start on Kelowna’s new $48 million police services building on Clement Avenue later this year and the prospect of the RCMP vacating the current detachment building on Doyle Avenue, the city is starting to think about the future of an area it calls the Civic Block.

City staff briefed council Monday on its plans to study the three-black area downtown, stretching from Queensway on the south side of city hall to Smith Avenue on the south side of the Kelowna Court House and from Water Street to the west to Ellis Street to the east.

Contained in the area are several high profile civic buildings including city hall, the Kelowna Community Theatre, the existing RCMP detachment building, the main Kelowna branch of the Okanagan Regional Library, Memorial Arena, the Kelowna Centennial Museum and the sites of both the new Innovation Centre and the new Interior Health office building at the corner of Doyle and Ellis. Both buildings are under construction.

Other construction in the area includes a$14 million addition to the existing Library Parkade that is currently taking place and plans to build a new parkade between the museum and the arena.

With construction of the new Interior Health building, the current IH health unit building on Ellis is also slated to become vacant.

City planning specialist Ross Soward told council staff are planing a multi-phase program that will include at least two public workshops to help gather public input about future development of the area, work that is expected to start later this month and wrap up by October. A plan would then be put together and presented to council before June 2016.

The city wants to look at the area as a whole, not just on an individual building basis. The city owns the RCMP detachment building, as well as Memorial Arena and the Kelowna Community Theatre, all of which are aging and decisions need to be made about their futures.

Mayor Colin Basran said with the planned redevelopment of parts of the area, as well as the recent revitalization of nearby Bernard Avenue, it is becoming the heart of what he called the “new” downtown.

“We’re going about this the right way—from a land use perspective,” said Basran. “This is something we can’t rush.”

He said it is important to have representation of all in the community at the table when the city sits down to design its plan for the area’s future.

The Civic Block is part of a larger area that extends all the way north to Clement Avenue, where the new police services building will be located. That building is slated to be ready for use by 2017.