Rutland commercial core murals on the side of business building. (Barry Gerding - Black Press Media)

Rutland commercial core murals on the side of business building. (Barry Gerding - Black Press Media)

Higher density appeals to Rutland business core

Building height of three to 12 storeys envisioned for Roxby, Asher roads.

What is envisioned by city planners for the next stage of growth in the Rutland commercial core has caught the attention of the local business community.

Karen Beaubier, executive director of the Uptown Rutland Business Association, said what jumped out at her in the preliminary vision of the Rutland business core development update for the city’s Official Community Plan was the building heights proposed for the Roxby and Asher street corridors off Highway 33.

Visual representation of the Uptown Rutland Business Association’s outdoor mural program. (Barry Gerding – Black Press Media)

“They target that area as high streets, where they see the density going up with residential buildings anywhere from three to 12 storeys in height. I was kind of shocked to see that kind of long-term vision but the city is really pushing for higher density in residential growth,” Beaubier said.

“An alternate transportation desire to expand bike lanes along with increasing the walkability potential also works in our favour as well.”

READ MORE: New executive for Uptown Rutland Business Association

But, Beaubier thinks URBA sees Rutland having the potential for dramatic changes over the next decade, similar in transformation to what has occurred this past decade in the Mission commercial core.

“That kind of higher-density growth would be very beneficial to our businesses. We see ourselves now as one of five urban centres in Kelowna and a gateway to UBC Okanagan, Big White and the airport,” she said.

The proposed OCP outlook for the next 20 years will be discussed by URBA representatives and city planning staff at a meeting planned for March 25.

Beyond city planning objectives, URBA has also been brainstorming ideas to help support and enhance the business community.

So far, that has included a rebranding process that has seen the creation of a new URBA logo, upgraded website and use of social media, and a mission statement.

Apparent plans to rebuild and reopen the burned-down popular Olympia Greek Taverna restaurant has also been welcomed news.

Meanwhile, URBA hopes to add a further four to six outdoor murals to its current collection this summer, and further upgrades to Centennial Park have already commenced this winter.

She said the URBA board of directors is also reviewing its current sponsorship and organization of community events with an eye to doing things that offer a more direct return on investment for Rutland businesses.

‘We have to be a little more business strategic…look at how what we do impacts business here in Rutland. We can look to do other things but we have to identify further what those other things are,” Beaubier said.

Staging a farmer’s market in Rutland is an URBA dream idea, but one that lacks a potential site right now.

“It would be amazing but that will take a lot of work with the city to make that happen,” she acknowledged.

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