Kelowna city council will move forward with plans to create a new beach park at Watt Road despite opposition from eight waterfront landowners.
A motion to approve the new beach park was carried at a council meeting on Monday, July 12. Only Coun. Charlie Hodge voted against the motion. The new park will be north of Boyce-Gyro beach and south of the new, under-construction Pandosy Waterfront Park. The motion will allow the city to start buying and developing the land needed for the project, which may take years.
“This is building a great community for the area… This (motion) is just saying that this is an ideal spot for a future waterfront park. The connectivity and the great proximity to an urban centre all just makes perfect sense,” said Mayor Colin Basran.
The vote comes after eight waterfront property owners expressed strong opposition towards the city’s plans after they were given information packages last year. A letter of opposition was submitted to the council for consideration at its meeting on May 31, 2021. The letter outlined the lack of background studies and consultation on the proposed beach park location and concerns that the park will degrade the neighbourhood.
“We ask why now, why is this designation being rushed? The land is not going anywhere, and the City is many years from acquisition, let alone development,” read the letter.
Basran disagreed. “What I think has happened here is that we have eight really vocal property owners that don’t want anything to change,” he said.
The new beach park is part of the city’s Official Community Plan (OCP), which includes plans to direct future park planning efforts. Online public survey results show support for the plans, according to the city’s presentation on Monday, July 12. Property owners were generally unsupportive of the plan, however, and cited concerns such as the lack of transparency and concerns on how it will affect property value.
“If we really do believe that this is what the community truly needs, then we need to have the courage to stand up and say ‘this is what we need…’ But we need to put it out there and be transparent so somebody who wants to buy a property there will know about the future of that land,” said Coun. Luke Stack.