Kelowna council is touting its Lower Mainland study tour as a success.
Several members of council visited community recreation centres and waterfront redevelopment sites on Feb. 24 and 25, as part of their decision-making process for the Kelowna Community Campus/Parkinson Recreation Centre (KCC) redevelopment project, and redevelopment of the Tolko lands.
The tour included the West Vancouver Community Centre, Edmonds Community Centre in Burnaby, Minoru Centre for Active Living in Richmond, Hillcrest Aquatic Centre in Vancouver, the North Vancouver Shipyards, and the Olympic Village of False Creek.
A lot of the discussion at the Mar. 14 council meeting focused on the right decision as to what project the city moves forward with.
“I think now we can get it right,” said Councillor Maxine DeHart. “Rec centers are very different than we’re going to know from Parkinson’s. Their (Lower Mainland) rec centres, their sports centres or health centres, they’re everything combined in one now.”
A staff report summarizing the tour stated the KCC ought to be designed with longevity in mind as it will serve the community for the next 60 plus years. It also pointed out the new facility needs to be accessible, inclusive and safe for all, integrated with the outdoors and have a ‘sense of arrival’ to locals and visitors.
“It just kind of left me philosophically looking at how we grow as a city,” said Councillor Loyal Wooldridge. “Not necessarily these two projects, whether it’s Tolko or the Parkinson rebuild, but just in general. Some of the comments made by the planners were that if you value a requirement, require it in the development. Don’t hope and wish that it will be there, but make it a requirement.”
Referring to the KCC project and redeveloping the Tolko lands, Councillor Mohini Singh was also concerned that the city gets it right.
“So that it meets the needs of all the citizens of our community,” said Singh. “To the repurposing of industrial land. Fantastic. I never thought I would appreciate it as much as I did.”
Location, cost and quality of project build also came up during council’s tour.
“It was mentioned some projects didn’t spend enough on the quality of it,” said Councillor Ryan Donn. “It needs to be a quality that will last a long time and it needs to be done right. Site locations were one of the things we were debating before we went down. After seeing all the different sites, I came back leaning towards a centre surrounded by green fields which was a surprise. But you see the interconnection between the building and the field space and the active space. There is a lot of extra community benefit you could add.”
Next steps include city staff providing a KCC report to council on which site plan layout is preferred, and tours of Parkinson Recreation Centre and H20. Council will also tour the Tolko site and receive the area redevelopment plan initial report, the North End Plan report from staff, as well as a public engagement update.
The expense for the study tour including airfare, transportation, accommodation, and food totalled $16,863.31.