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Developer sues city over restrictions to build on land in north Kelowna

Watermark Development Ltd. has filed a lawsuit, resuesting that restrictions on a property near UBCO be cancelled

Developers have filed a lawsuit against the City of Kelowna asking that restrictions on a parcel of land be removed since the city’s plans for the future have changed.

Watermark Development Ltd. filed the suit in the Supreme Court of B.C. on May 8, 15 years after restrictions on a parcel of land in north Kelowna were implemented.

Initially, Watermark approached the city for approval to subdivide, rezone, and develop portions of property on Academy Way in 2009.

The lawsuit states that the City of Kelowna “took this opportunity to ensure that its options to build the Central Okanagan Multi-Modal Corridor were maintained.”

The agreement made was that approval for re-zoning and subdivision would not move forward if Watermark did not agree to grant the City of Kelowna the “Restrictive Covenants,” which barred development on a portion of the property.

While the restrictions only cover a portion of the property, the lawsuit states that it “effectively sterilizes,” the unrestricted areas. Watermark states that the land available for development is cut off from access to existing roadways since new roads are not able to be built through the restricted areas.

Watermark alleges that the lack of access has prevented projects from going forward.

Since 2009, there have been several iterations of transportation plans to connect downtown Kelowna to UBCO, some of which included the restricted areas for roadways.

However, in January 2022, the City of Kelowna published the 2040 Official Community Plan (OCP) which does not contain plans to build the Central Okanagan Multi-Modal Corridor through the restricted property.

“As far as Watermark is aware, there are no confirmed plans or related proposed budgets or capital funding to purchase the required land from Watermark and build a roadway through the property,” states the suit.

Watermark alleges the removal of the restrictions would not be a loss to the City of Kelowna because any pre-existing plan to build a Multi-Modal Corridor or any other roadway through or near the property has been removed from the OCP.

Additionally, Watermark states that the City of Kelowna would actually receive benefits, including increased property tax revenue if the restrictions were removed and the land was developed.

According to the claim, the OCP indicates there are planned and budgeted extensions from Hollywood Road from McCurdy Road to John Hindle Drive and Rutland Road from Old Vernon Road to the airport.

The city has allegedly denied four requests from Watermark between 2021 and 2023, asking for permission to develop the restricted property.

Watermark is requesting that the restrictions be cancelled and discharged.

The City of Kelowna has 21 days from May 8, to respond to the suit.

Tom Wilson, media relations manager with the City of Kelowna said the city will not be commenting further since the matter is before the courts.

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Jacqueline Gelineau

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