To the editor:
At the meeting of Kelowna city council on March 14 the issue relating to commercial development of the properties owned by the city at the foot of Cedar Avenue and to the north along the lake was foremost on the agenda. If the development is passed Kelowna will have lost the last opportunity for a waterfront park in the fast developing Pandosy area of Kelowna and probably anywhere else along the lake.
A very slick and colourful presentation was made by the planning department and council enthusiastically endorsed the proposal which calls for commercial and residential development over the majority of the area with a narrow public walkway along the lake.
The lone courageous dissenting voice came from Charlie Hodge, Mayor Shepherd and councillor Robert Hobson having excused themselves as a result of a conflict of interest.
The matter will now go to a public hearing slated for April 5.
It was always my belief that council had a duty to withhold its decision until all of the facts are presented, similar to a court case, and not to prejudge the issue. However, on this occasion it seems clear that “It’s a done deal” as has been the rumour circulating from the city hall bureaucracy.
The rationale for the reasoning against prejudging the issue is to ensure that council has all of the facts and those facts are accurate and not some spin to paint a picture of the desired result by the proponents. For instance I understand Coun. Angela Reid commented that the sewer outfall at the foot of Cedar Avenue made the beach fronting the Abbott Street properties unsuitable for public use. The fact is that the sewer outfall discharges about one kilometre from the shore at a depth of about 180 feet. There was a great photo op about a year or so ago when Mark Watt drank a glass directly from the treatment plant to show that it was potable. The fact is that this beach could be ideal for families at very little expense.
Again, Coun. André Blaniel’s commented that it was always council’s desire to have some commercial components on the property. The documents clearly show that these properties were initially purchased to be used as parkland.
Coun. Luke Stack wants to ensure that we bring commercial areas out of Pandosy down to the lake. Well, the properties east of Abbott Street would be ideal for commercial and multi-family dwelling with a magnificent view of the park in front and the lake across to the Westside.
Please, members of council, look to the future and preserve this magnificent property for future generations.
Walley Lightbody, QC