City ambitions to turn a portion of the Kelowna waterfront into a linear park, alongside a four-storey commercial and residential development, have come against significant opposition.
At an Advisory Planning Commission meeting on Tuesday, all but two committee members gave plans for waterfront properties on Abbott Street a thumbs down, seemingly swayed by a significant showing of neighbourhood dissenters who filled council chambers.
“It’s a coup for the city to have acquired all this land for $2.2 million, and it’s a wonderful opportunity to take a look at this as park land,” said area resident Ian Sisett, during the public input portion of the meeting on the seven properties the city has accrued since 1989.
“The (artistic renderings) show us a nice park, trees and walkways, but where is the six-storey Berlin Wall?”
In what was one of the more dramatic statements of the three-hour meeting, Sisett went on to explain zoning assigned to the portion of land that could be up for development would allow for an unattractive barrier between the pre-existing community and the waterfront.
“Has anyone addressed the visual corridors?” he asked.
“Why don’t we use it as a park? Are we a bunch of myopic bean counters, or a group with foresight and courage that can make this something other than a Berlin Wall?”
Since those parks are virtually empty during the bulk of the year, Derek Edstrom explained plans for the 2.5 acres of waterfront land are designed to draw the energy of the South Pandosy business area year-round with commercial, as well as natural, amenities.
Possibly, plans for an iconic piece of public art will come to fruition.
“This way people can enjoy the Pandosy area, and be enticed to come down Cedar Avenue,” he said, explaining that a restaurant and cafe figure into the plan.
“We hear over and over again, there are not enough places on the waterfront for people to come…and essentially have a coffee on the lake. This would provide that space.”
Around 55 per cent of the site would remain parkland if the plan came to fruition, and that ration would be met with a 450-foot-long lakeside promenade as well as a traditional park.
The remaining property, which butts against Abbott Street, would be put up for sale.
Interested developers would be invited to submit proposals for residential housing and some limited commercial space that would likely include a restaurant. Proceeds from that would be rolled into other endeavours.
While most of the APC members voted the proposal down, Mark Thomson said he liked what was presented.
“If I owned land in the yellow area (which sits behind city owned lots) I would be in favour of the property in red turning to park,” he said.
In coming weeks city council will have a chance to weigh in on the plan that’s been spelled out in Kelowna’s Official Community Plan since 2004, not to mention the Pandosy Sector Plan and the Cedar Avenue Plan.
All three were crafted with the help of community input and approved by council.