Letter: Nothing but negatives for Kelowna OCP

To the editor:

The Kelowna draft Official Community Plan, which was recently unveiled at open houses throughout the city and online, is nothing less than a major assault on the city’s community character and the quality of life of its residents.

Full of platitudes, it is ostensibly premised on the idea of sustainability. However, its implicit support for endless growth violates the logic of that concept as anyone with half a brain knows that endless growth is impossible given limited local resources such as water.

But this document avoids addressing that issue, passing the buck to some future OCP to deal with.

The draft OCP violates Kelowna’s small town character as it allows 19-storey buildings in the downtown, 12 storeys in the Capri neighbourhood and eight storeys in the South Pandosy area. But then, preserving our community character is not one of its stated major goals.

In many California communities with which I am familiar, protecting community character is their number one goal. For example, the first goal of City of Carlsbad General Plan is: “to preserve [the city’s] small town feel, beach community character and connectedness.” As such, the building height limit in Carlsbad’s downtown is three storeys. And a community doesn’t have to be a small town to have a small town character as the population of Carlsbad is 108,000.

The Kelowna draft OCP is an assault on the quality of life of residents as it encourages worsening traffic congestion. It will accomplish this by allowing for significant population growth but not making any major modifications that will increase roadway capacity until traffic flows have reached a “failure” grade, presumably gridlock.

Instead, any available funds for transportation improvements will be channeled to public transit which is presently used by less than five per cent of residents.

Sound insane? It is. A similar policy was followed by Portland, Oregon. As a result, Portland, the 23rd largest city in the U.S., has the 13th highest level of traffic congestion, according to a recent survey. I presume the thinking is that if the public doesn’t voluntarily switch to public transit, they will be punished and their lives will be made unbearable.

I find this all so depressing that I think I will stay in Carlsbad an additional month this winter. Rather than pursuing the oxymoron of “sustainable growth,” Carlsbad has taken meaningful steps to sustain its community character and the quality of life of its residents, not only by setting sensible building height restrictions but by having an adequate public facilities ordinance (APFO) in place which stipulates that there has to be a satisfactory level of public services before any additional growth can take place.

That would be something for Kelowna city council to consider, if there were any sensible people on it.

John Zeger,

Carlsbad, CA