Waters: Downtown Kelowna back in the spotlight

With ongoing work and proposed projects slated for downtown, an area once seen as neglected by the city is back in the limelight.

For years critics complained about a lack of attention focused on downtown Kelowna.

Well, that can’t be said now. Downtown development has grabbed the local spotlight of late, with at least three projects—one underway and two proposed—at the forefront of city plans. But, as is usual when it comes to development in this city, finding consensus on any project appears virtually impossible.

Arguments over how the city should dig up its main downtown street—Bernard Avenue—raged prior to that project getting underway last month, and now that it is underway, many merchants are justifiably concerned about their businesses surviving to see completion of the project in the spring of 2014.

While everyone seems to agree it’s needed, now that the work is underway there’s still substantial disagreement about how it should proceed. At which end of the road should the work have started? How long should it take? Should the city have paid more to work through the winter to speed up completion?

And now new, project-related questions have popped up. Like, are the faces used in city advertisements on the worksite fences really representative of the local population? And, is the city doing enough to let the public know businesses are open to foot traffic during the construction?

But while Bernard Avenue is the most visible construction project in the city, it is not the only downtown project garnering attention.

The plan to build a new, multi-storey parkade beside Memorial Arena for a proposed new office building to house Interior Health workers across the street has also gained its fair share of attention lately.

While the office tower has largely been welcomed because of the estimated 1,000 new workers it will bring into the downtown core, some feel it is slated for the wrong place at the corner of Doyle Avenue and St. Paul Street. But that’s where the city has land to sell. And the proceeds from that sale will help pay for the new parkade.

The city says the parkade is critical to the office tower going ahead and will help provide more parking for everyone downtown. But critics complain it is slated for land covered by the Kelowna Sawmill Community Trust—referred to by some as the Simpson Covenant—and as such should not be used. They say it encourages cars at a time when the city is trying to discourage car use. But the proposal calls construction of a parkade on what is now a parking lot.

The argument has been made in recent years that the real commercial

centre of the city is now the area around Orchard Park Shopping Centre, not downtown. But given the interest in downtown development, it appears downtown is still alive and well.

Alistair Waters is the assistant editor of the Capital News.

 

 

Just Posted

Giants ground Rockets in WHL action

Vancouver builds early lead, never looks back in 6-1 win at Langley Events Centre

Pedestrian hit at ‘dangerous’ Kelowna cross walk

Emergency officials responded to a cross walk that neighbours say is unsafe Saturday evening

Permitted burns in Okanagan mountains

Kelowna Fire Department says please don’t call 911

Pets sit in Santa’s lap

Kelowna - The Okanagan Small Dog Rescue Society held a pet photo opt today

Your weekend highlights

Each week, the Capital News will highlight stories from the week

Drones used in search for clues about missing women

A volunteer search party was supported by professional drone operators

Start on time: Canucks looking to shake first-period struggles

Canucks centre Bo Horvat said the formula for getting a leg up is there for everyone to see

COMMUTER ALERT: Snowfall warnings in effect across B.C.

Travelling this weekend? Check the forecasts before hitting the road

Tips for keeping your personal data safe, from the experts

It’s important to keep your ‘online footprint’ safe

Lights to turn blue ahead of funeral for fallen Abbotsford police officer

Buildings across B.C. are going blue Saturday night in honour of Const. John Davidson

Ride-share pioneer drives up quietly to B.C. battleground

Lyft approaches B.C. without Uber bombast, eyes small towns

Massive monster truck tour held in Kelowna

Traxxas Monster Truck Tour will be here in January, 2018

Boomer radio expands

Kelowna resident Allen Holender continues to expand his network

VIDEO: Rare comic showing Superman’s 1st appearance to be auctioned

The 1938 comic features Superman hoisting a car over his head

Most Read