OCP meeting absence the last straw

Rutland is suffering from the current city council’s neglect and it’s time for elected officials to tune in to what’s happening before too many opportunities have been lost, says a prominent area resident.

Sharon Shepherd

Rutland is suffering from the current city council’s neglect and it’s time for elected officials to tune in to what’s happening before too many opportunities have been lost, says a prominent area resident.

Todd Sanderson, who ran for city council during the last by-election in addition to being on the Uptown Rutland Business Association’s executive, wrote a letter to the city after learning Rutland wasn’t one of the destinations for upcoming series of Official Community Plan meetings.

“Deb Guthrie from URBA, emailed me in frustration, saying they had been working to get an OCP meeting in Rutland, and city staff told her it ‘wasn’t worth it,’” he said.

The way Rutland’s worth is being evaluated is something Sanderson says requires questioning, as projects aimed at improving the area get shifted to the backburner.

Several consultations about ways to improve Rutland’s core have been held, and nothing has come out of them.

Popular events like May Days and the Scarecrow Festival pass by without financial support from the city, and recent plans to build a transit hub were ditched when the province decided to re-jig the Bus Rapid Transit line’s route.

Instead of looping it through Rutland, the bus just runs up and down Highway 97, and regular buses offer links.

They’ve even made bids for public art, he said, which have always been rejected.

“There have been a whole bunch of things in the last few years and Rutland is home to one-third of the population, which is huge,” he said.

“I would like to see mayor and council come out with something that says, ‘Rutland you are on our radar.’ I know we have planned the area to death …but it’s completely frustrating to sit in on countless meetings and planning sessions, where city staff shows us what will happen, then they go nowhere.”

It’s frustration Mayor Sharon Shepherd says she can empathize with, but she doesn’t think the city has failed to invest in the city.

“Rutland is a huge area and money has to be spread throughout the city,” she said.

“We try to be as fair as we can, and if anything we are disappointed with the transit hub not moving ahead, but we are anticipating something positive will come forward from what has been planned.”

Rutland, she pointed out, has also been the destination of significant investment, with everything from the YMCA to highway corridors benefiting from investment.

The city has also rezoned areas in a way that would benefit private investment.

Unfortunately, she said, those projects didn’t come to pass because of a stagnating economy.

“The challenge with some of the parts of our community is trying to get the development happening, due to property owners not wanting to move ahead,” she said.

“Throughout the city we have zoned properties so they’re ready to go, but (developers) are recognizing that this isn’t the time.”

Shepherd says she also recognizes that the decision to not include Rutland in the OCP should be addressed, and she’ll go to city staff to see why the decision was made to not include Rutland.

As is, the last set of open houses before the plan is forwarded to council will take place in Glenmore, downtown and in the Pandosy area.

The purpose of the consultation is gather input on the OCP and related Servicing Plan.

That input will be reported to council in aggregate before the plan is forwarded to council for initial consideration.

The schedule of events, locations and times are:

• Thursday, Feb. 17 (Glenmore) St. David’s Presbyterian Church, 271 Snowsell  St., 4 to 7 p.m.

• Saturday, Feb. 19 (Downtown) Laurel Packinghouse, 1304 Ellis St., 10 a,m to 2 p.m.

• Wednesday, Feb. 23 (Pandosy), St. Paul’s United Church, 3131 Lakeshore Rd., 4 to 7 p.m.

All three Open Houses will have the same information. 

The display material will include general information on Future Land Uses, policies, Development Permit (DP) Guidelines and the 20 Year Servicing Plan and Financing Strategy.

The display from the open houses will also be posted to the OCP website (www.kelowna2030.ca) beginning on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011.

At that time there will also be an associated on-line survey to coincide with the display material and we would like very much to receive your input through the survey. 

The survey will be available through to 4 p.m. on Friday, March 18.

kmichaels@kelownacapnews.com