A rendering of Westcorp’s proposed 33-storey hotel on Water Street. (Contributed)

33-storey waterfront hotel in Kelowna gets second chance

Council granted another development permit to WestCorp after the first one neared expiration

A developer proposing to build a towering hotel along Kelowna’s waterfront has been given a second chance by city council.

Edmonton-based developer WestCorp initially had its plans for a 33-storey hotel along Water Street approved on Feb. 20, 2018.

Nearing the two-year mark and expiration of the development permit, the proposal made its way back to city council on Tuesday evening, where council granted another permit.

A few tweaks were made to the proposal, including a 5-metre height reduction, increased amount of parking stalls and an increased number of both hotel rooms and residential units.

“With projects of this size and complexity, it’s not uncommon for things to take time,” said WestCorp’s Gail Temple.

All but one on councillor voted in favour of the project, with Coun. Charlie Hodge again finding himself the only one in opposition. Councillors Brad Sieben, Maxine DeHart and Ryan Donn were not present for the vote.

“It’s a marvellous looking building — there’s no question about it,” said Hodge. “But I have been opposed to this proposal for a number of years now. As much as I think it’s a beautiful building, it’s in the wrong location.”

Hodge continued, saying the project will have a significant impact on Kelowna’s downtown core but the negatives outweigh the positives.

“I hope I’m wrong, but to be consistent with what I’ve been from the beginning I cannot support this project,” he said.

Hodge’s colleagues lauded the building’s design, speaking of the vibrancy it will bring to downtown Kelowna.

“I supported this all the way and will continue to do so. One of the reasons why was the animation of Kerry Park, which will be absolutely phenomenal,” said Mayor Colin Basran.

Despite having held the first permit for nearly two years, development on the project is still in the early stages. The province’s controversial speculation tax, on property owned by out-of-province residents and B.C. residents who own more than one home that is not rented out long-term, is believed to have played a part in slowing plans for the hotel project.

The hotel brand partner and name of the hotel will be announced on March 25 and the up-to 65 residential units (dependent on market demand) will go on sale in the coming months.

READ MORE: Climate protesters stage peaceful protest during Kelowna council meeting

READ MORE: Development permit for future 33-storey downtown Kelowna hotel nears expiration


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