An artist’s impression of what Sutherland Avenue would look like in the Capri-Landmark plan. —Image: City of Kelowna

Kelowna council puts controversial Capri-Landmark plan on hold

Councillors concerned about proposed plan to extend Sutherland Avenue

Kelowna city council has put its controversial Capri-Landmark town centre plan on hold after the majority of city councillors opposed the part of the plan that calls for an extension of Sutherland Avenue, from Burtch Road to Spall Road.

Council voted 7-2 Monday to defer approval of the plan to later date after staff review the extension and report back.

Led by Coun. Luke Stack, several councillors expressed concern about the impact of the road extension on area businesses and buildings when the plan was put before them by staff for approval Monday.

“I don’t believe the Sutherland (Avenue) extension is well thought out and would ever be built,” said Stack.

He liked the parts of the plan that dealt with the Capri area but when it came to Landmark area, he described the plan as too disruptive and expensive.

The proposed extension of Sutherland would displace a number of existing business and require the removal of buildings in the area. Several impacted business operators and property owners have expressed displeasure with the plan over the last few months.

The entire plan would cost an estimated $96 million over 20 to 30 years, with development paying two-thirds of the cost and the taxpayer paying the rest.

The redevelopment proposed for both the Capri and the Landmark areas is needed say city staff because an estimated 8,000 people are expected to move into the area during that time. There is already about 2,000 people there now.

Staff say the road extension is crucial to the plan’s success and note there is already a city-imposed moratorium on development in the Landmark area because of the need to improve transportation there.

Related: City hall’s plans for a Kelowna neighbourhood could create significant issues

While six of the nine members of council expressed concern about the Sutherland extension, it did find support from Coun. Gail Given, who said she was saddened by her colleagues refusal to endorse approval of what she considered a much needed plan for the two areas.

“There is a hole in the middle of our community that has huge potential to be a phenomenal live-work-pay neighbourhood,” she said, of the Capri-Landmark area.

The only others who supported the plan in its entirety were Coun. Ryan Donn and Mayor Colin Basran. But while Donn voted with Given to opposed the deferral, Basran said he would reluctantly vote to put the plan on hold given it was clear the rest of council wanted it deferred.

He said he liked what city staff came up with and felt the staff presentation addressed all concerns. And he accused Stack of “shrewd politicking” in speaking out against the plan now. A civic election is just over a month away.

But Stack shot back, saying he has expressed concern about the Sutherland extension in the past and denied he was playing politics with the issue.

Related: Kelowna commercial landlords face displacement

Other councillors who weighed in on the plan also pointed to the proposed Sutherland extension as a concern and also said they liked the redevelopment plans for the Capri area. That is where much of the population growth is expected as the existing Capri Centre Mall is redeveloped for multi-family housing and green space in the future.

Councillors Charlie Hodge, Mohini Singh, Tracy Gray, Maxine DeHart and Brad Sieben all all said they liked how the plan dealt with the Capri area. But they wanted the Sutherland extension reviewed and another option sought.

Sieben said he was also concerned about the plan for more parks in the area, particularly the cost.

City planner Ross Soward said the plan lowers the city’s expectation for the amount of parkland proposed for the area to a total of five to six hectares from eight hectares. That recommendation was made, in part, because of its close proximity to the Parkinson Recreation Centre.

PRC is located across Highway 97 from the Landmark area and connected by a pedestrian overpass.

City staff maintain the plan will benefit the area despite its impact on a what it considered a few of the estimated 1,300 business owners in the area.

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