Kelowna mayor says social housing proposal must work

Kelowna mayor says social housing proposal must work

Project located in business-oriented Commerce Avenue

Kelowna city councillor Brad Sieben is not a fan of a temporary 46-unit supportive housing project being located on Commerce Avenue.

And he thinks some of the commercial business neighbours of the BC Housing project earmarked for a vacant lot on the west side of Commerce will share his sentiments.

“I am supportive of these types of housing proposals but this is not the location or the design form and character,” Sieben said.

Recent: Kelowna social housing project revised

Speaking at the city council meeting on Monday, Sieben said he had a hard time grasping how city planning staff recommended the original project concept, which called for temporary modular housing, and is perhaps giving too much latitude in development guidelines because of the shortfall of housing for homeless and supportive services.

To suggest this reworked proposal might be okay now may not represent the true feelings of its neighbours, Sieben suggested.

The original proposal was met with significant resistance last fall, noted Coun. Maxine DeHart, but she hasn’t heard that same sentiment regarding the revised plan.

“I was waiting for people to start coming by at my hotel, but I’ve heard no comments or phone calls. That says to me hopefully that the public is more warmed up to this revised proposal,” DeHart said.

Related: Delay requested in homeless housing development

Mayor Colin Basran said the message he heard was consistent initially —have no problem with the land use but don’t like how it looks.

“This is a huge improvement over what was originally proposed,” said Basran.

“But there is a lot riding on this application as it needs to mix into the existing neighbourhood in a seamless fashion. There is a lot of work yet to do to ensure this is comparable and not disruptive to the neighbourhood.

“All eyes are on us with this because if this isn’t working in this neighbourhood, it will be challenge to get other neighbourhoods to go along. I don’t want to put pressure on anyone but we need to make sure this works or it will be an uphill battle for future similar projects.”

Coun. Luke Stack disagreed with Sieben’s assessment of the project, calling it very appropriate for the location.

“The original proposal had the look of a trailer park, but looking at this revised proposal has the appearance of a small office building not much different from any other building of that type up and down Highway 97,” Stack said.

“It has good fencing, landscaping and I think fits in perfectly with the surrounding area. I would have no problem approving this as a commercial use building project.”

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