The city’s vision for development will see a refocus away from a propensity for single-family homes to higher density projects in the city’s urban cores. Photo: Contributed

Kelowna council commits to urban core development

Supports shift away from outlying suburban housing growth

Kelowna council endorsed a plan Monday that may guide development in the city until 2040.

Council endorsed a planning department update to the Official Community Plan, following consultation from a public engagement process, to support a growth scenario staff referred to as a progressive shift focused on the urban core.

Related: Imagine Kelowna vision endorsed by council

Under this growth scenario— one of four that was offered— new housing would primarily be multi-unit and include the “missing middle” forms of housing such as semi-detached, row-housing and townhouses, in addition to apartment housing.

It would also see the city move away from development that creates suburban sprawl and focus more on the urban core, requiring a scaling back of development potential in select suburban areas.

Planning staff said this direction would create more benefits for better transit and transportation options in population densified areas supported by infrastructure investments centred on those core areas.

The Capri Landmark Urban Centre proposal, eyed for completion over the next 20 years or longer, is a prime example of urban core development.

Related: Kelowna council adopts $95 million urban centre concept

That said, Robert Miles, OCP project planner, said these changes may require some initial compromise with developments already underway in Kelowna’s suburban areas.

Following the presentation, Coun. Brad Sieben asked if the urban core focus will actually drive up land prices and housing affordability, but Danielle Noble-Brandt, City of Kelowna department manager for policy and planning, said there is not a direct correlation between supply and demand with regards to housing prices.

“There are other factors at play that equally influence housing prices,” said Noble-Brandt.

Mayor Colin Basran said he liked what was being offered.

“We can carry forward and see where this goes but excited to see this is what the public said they wanted and the exciting opportunity this can provide for future growth in our community,” Basran said.

With council’s endorsement of the recommendation, the next step is for staff to develop a growth scenario for council’s consideration in September with some refinements, such as a more detailed analysis of growth areas and responses to the public feedback received as part of the public engagement process.

Related: Bus service best future option for Kelowna transit

Should council endorse that scenario, the OCP update process would move on to phase 3 of the five-phase process characterized by the development of a detailed future land use plan and coordinated alignment with the Master Transportation Plan also currently under discussion.

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