What started as an effort by a few South Pandosy residents to quash a proposed waterfront development on Cedar Avenue has gained momentum.
At a public hearing scheduled for next Tuesday, April 5, neighbourhood groups from across Kelowna plan to converge and shoot down city aspirations.
“I’ve been dealing with these things for a long time, and this issue has them, they are really generally going to battle city hall on this one,” said John Harling, president of the Glenmore Valley Community Association.
Harling is talking about city plans to convert seven properties on the waterfront to a combination of park, commercial and residential space.
The crux of the matter, it seems, is that the city plans to sell off a portion of the property to commercial interests, potentially for a four-storey development, so they can finance building a boardwalk, bird habitat and smaller park. But residents would rather it just be cleared for parkland.
“There’s a real concern, and it’s not just attacking something for having a different point of view,” Harling said, trying to sum up the point of view of the numerous community groups which have come together on the issue.
“They’re worried if they don’t fight it now, what will happen as time goes by.
The city owns a number of waterfront properties and, he said, the idea that they could all be converted to commercial space doesn’t resonate.
So, the buck will stop, at Cedar Avenue, if they have anything to do with it. “The Residents Associations request that council votes against the application to rezone the properties to be part commercial. A new motion should be proposed to allow a review of the subject properties in direct consultation with the actual stakeholders (residents),” reads a letter signed from the collective.
“These properties have been purchased by the citizens and should not be sold for a multi-storey development. This waterfront land has to be preserved for future generations as was the intention of City Council at the time it began to acquire the properties. The city frequently reminds us that it promotes green and sustainable decisions; here is an opportunity to demonstrate this by having these properties become a full park, not just a token boardwalk along the waterfront.”
Neighbourhood groups aren’t the only ones getting in on the action, either. The lobbying arm of the business community have also put in their two cents.
“The Kelowna Chamber has reviewed both the pros and cons of this proposed rezoning of the Abbott Street park,” reads a letter penned by past chamber president Wesley Shields.
“The chamber recognizes that the city must weigh the preservation of this park in relation to other factors.
“To this end, the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce encourages the city of Kelowna to consider the Abbott Street park in relation to the overall park strategy.”
They went on to say that the direction set out with Cedar Avenue was at odds with plans to keep park space as a means to attract and retain high quality talent in the community, keeping with urban planner Richard Florida’s vision.
City planners have said their proposal is the best way to ensure a lively flow of activity around beaches.
The April 5 public hearing has been rescheduled to begin at 5 p.m.
Agenda items include a heritage revitalization agreement for 862 Bernard Ave., and zoning changes for 935 Gibson Rd., 3399 East Kelowna Rd. and 1810-1824 Gordon Dr.
Consideration of the application for the Cedar Avenue Redevelopment along Abbott Street will follow and members of the public wishing to speak to this matter can attend the meeting anticipated to begin at 7 p.m.
Council meeting agendas can be downloaded from the city website at kelowna.ca/council.