Michaels: Theatrics shouldn’t throw planning out of whack

Response to Official Community Plan that would encompass Kelowna Mountain project was dramatic.

Next time your children complain about Kelowna’s boredom factor, take them to City Hall.

It’s usually the stomping grounds of policy wonks, but some nights it converts into a stage for the most gloriously unusual outpourings.

Theatrics with local political flavour played out in council chambers Monday night. After years of not having any ability to control or even really protect the lands in the Upper Mission, the regional district held a public hearing in the final leg of instituting an Official Community Plan that would deal with all future development.

Meetings about these documents are always lively and add heartening insight into how deeply invested some people are in their community, to boot.

In Kelowna the issue of highrises was a crowd favourite.

The OCP for the South Slopes, on the other hand, puts restrictions on subdividing and development—limitations that are clearly a thorn in the side of Mark Consiglio.

He’s the controversial developer who has been plodding along with the Kelowna Mountain project for years, regardless of the frustrations and fears expressed by neighbouring bureaucracies.

They’ve consistently said environmental impact reports and other analysis is necessary before going about the business of building a massive resort. Madness, really.

Problem for them was those reports just weren’t anything that Consiglio was willing to talk to them about, opting instead to deal with the provincial government. Instituting the OCP, however, would force the issue and shift power to the regional district. It would probably cost him a mint in the process.

So, it’s clear both parties have a lot at stake when it comes to this document, but what ensued at the public hearing surprised even the most  cynical political observers.

Busloads of pro-Kelowna Mountain types in matching T-shirts calling for the death of the OCP packed council chambers, looking more like puppet protestors from some sort of communist regime than concerned citizens.

Investors spoke out about their plans to fly in oodles of Asian investors—B.C.’s great economic hope—to lap up all the resort project has to offer.

Consiglio also managed to lure out a line of star power. Apparently one of Donald Trump’s right hand men is involved with the project, and he spoke with the passion one would expect from such lineage.

If that wasn’t enough, the Catholic church had to add its two cents. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Nelson registered its opposition, noting its Seton House retreat and gravel pit above Kettle Valley have development potential the OCP would severely curtail.

In short, Donald Trump and the forces of God are against the OCP. It’s the type of stuff you can’t get from even the smuttiest TV show, kiddies.

It will be a miracle if the document is passed in its current form, and maybe it shouldn’t be.

But let’s all hope the value of proper planning won’t be lost because of the cluster bomb of weirdness that went off in the opening act.

 

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