A proposed modular housing unit from the development permit application package for a homeless housing complex on Commerce Ave. in Kelowna

Kelowna businesses request delay in homeless development

Commerce Ave. businesses say they weren’t properly consulted about the proposal

A group of Kelowna businesses say they weren’t consulted about a planned homeless housing complex that will go against the form and character of the area it’s planned for.

Mill Creek Commerce Park business owners are asking Kelowna City Council to defer a decision on an application by BC Housing for a development permit to build a homeless housing complex at 1642 Commerce Ave.

The provincial government on Dec. 1 announced via news release that it would be developing 55 supportive housing units in the Mill Creek Commerce Park (MCCP). The development permit application application goes before City Council on Monday, Dec. 11.

“To be clear, our opposition to this development permit is based on the absence of due process and fairness,” said Tony Gaspari, one of the founding developers of the MCCP. “A decision is being made that will impact all of the surrounding businesses, and none of us were consulted, or even informed.”

According to the Mill Creek area businesses, neither the city nor BC Housing informed neighbouring stakeholders of the proposed development or the development permit application. Some of them found out about the development only when approached by local media.

“We don’t object to the broad goals of the B.C. government’s supportive housing strategy, or to the specific proposal to develop supportive housing on the subject property,” said Gaspari. “In fact, we’re willing to work with the province and city to develop such a project that meets the needs of all stakeholders.”

Gaspari pointed out that, in addition to the lack of consultation, MCCP business owners have significant concerns about the development as it is proposed. When the 20-acre business park was developed in 2002, with the full support of Kelowna City Council, it adopted a set of design guidelines on appropriate form and character.

But the MCCP says the proposed supportive housing development will be constructed using refurbished former work camp construction trailers stacked to two storeys and placed on temporary foundations. As such, it lacks sensitivity to the established neighbourhood and doesn’t follow accepted neighbourhood design guidelines, said the group. It also contravenes the city’s own guidelines, which state developments should be “attractive and sensitive to the established neighbourhood,” they said.

“We respectfully request that the city delay approval of the development permit in the interests of fairness to all concerned,” said Gaspari. “This process is being rushed through without proper thought and consideration to the long-term impacts it will have on the neighbourhood and the livelihoods of the people who work and own businesses there.”

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