A proposal for a mixed-use development was met with several questions from Kelowna city councillors on Monday afternoon (Sept. 28).
City council gave the green light to a rezoning that would allow for a 4.5 storey development at the corner of Abbott Street and Newsom Avenue that would contain 24 residential units as well as ground-level commercial space.
Councillors voiced their concerns as to whether those commercial spaces — which are increasingly popular in new urban developments — will actually be used, citing issues in filling such spaces in other recent developments.
Coun. Gail Given provided specific examples including a building at the corner of Ethel Street and Harvey Avenue and the Ella building in Kelowna’s downtown core that have had a tough time filling commercial spaces.
“I’m starting to be concerned when projects are being completed but commercial spaces aren’t being filled,” Given said.
City staff admitted they had similar concerns but they’re largely short-term. Terry Barton, the city’s development planning manager, said it may be the case that businesses are unable to fill those spaces in the next few years, but long-term the city will likely need those spaces.
“When we build a building, we’re looking at our community over the next 30 to 40 years,” said Barton.
The development is also proposed across the street from the future location of Pandosy Waterfront Park, providing several opportunities for businesses.
“This to me is what will enhance the livability and the ‘coolness factor’ of South Pandosy,” said Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran. “The fact that you could go and ride your bike and chill at the new park, then go get your bike and get a service — whatever those businesses may end up being — across the street.”
Coun. Charlie Hodge took issue with the development, saying it’s in the wrong location, calling the South Pandosy area a residential area.
Basran countered Hodge’s remarks, saying Pandosy is, in fact, an urban centre.
“And urban centres are mixed-use — period,” Basran said.
The rezoning was moved to a public hearing with the lone dissenting vote coming from Hodge.
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