Parnell: Kelowna sticks to its vision

It should be an incredible, linear park, that will allow residents (and, yes, those tourists too) to view Okanagan Lake in all its splendor

Kelowna city councillors appear to have gone against the stream of the majority of public opinion in this week’s decision to approve a controversial new visitor centre on the Queensway jetty.

It certainly was the most talked about issue in recent weeks with letters to the editor streaming into the Capital News, mostly in opposition.

Then this week, more than 300 folks crammed into Kelowna municipal hall to voice either opposition or support for the project.

We have to say, thoughts heading into the meeting put the odds of survival for this rezoning application at slim to none, given the near 90 per cent of letters we received being against the move.

Then at Tuesday’s public hearing, those against were a more boisterous crowd, although the speakers were split nearly 50-50.

So it was up to the elected officials that are making decisions in Kelowna, to dig down and decide what shape downtown Kelowna will take in the future.

And with apologies to those that feel their view of Okanagan Lake will forever be ruined, we have to give our city council and mayor a firm pat on the back for sticking to their guns, not giving in to the loud majority (or are they the minority) and pushing forward with a vision that eventually we feel, will make Kelowna proud.

The addition of a visitor centre and hotel on a location that right now can only be described as an ugly mess, seems like the right move.

We don’t feel the view of Okanagan Lake will be ruined.

In fact, once complete, the area should be an incredible, linear park, that will allow residents (and, yes, those tourists too) to view Okanagan Lake in all its splendor with a walk-way and a pathway that will link Kerry Park to Stuart Park and beyond.

You will be able to walk from the bridge in City Park all the way to the Rotary Marsh with no vehicle interruption.

No longer will you have to navigate through a parking lot when you are strolling downtown Kelowna.

Much like in Vancouver, where residents and tourists are able to walk, ride, roller-blade along the ocean-front, with a convention centre, restaurant and numerous businesses on one side and the ocean on the other, this is going to take Kelowna to the next level, improving downtown and modernizing the city.

Stuart Park is already one of the best features in Kelowna.

With the linear park eventually able to connect Stuart and Kerry Park to a growing trail’s network in the city, we say well done Kelowna council for sticking to your vision.