Downtown Kelowna as seen from the top of Knox Mountain. (Phil McLachlan - File photo)

Downtown Kelowna as seen from the top of Knox Mountain. (Phil McLachlan - File photo)

Kelowna council ratifies plan to guide city growth for the next two decades

The 2040 OCP will now go to the province for signatures before final adoption by council

Kelowna city council has given its final look and members of the public have given their last comments on the document set to guide the city’s growth for the next 20 years – the 2040 Official Community Plan (OCP).

The OCP is a high-level planning document. At more than 300 pages, it sets out the city’s general land use and growth strategies for the next two decades. Largely, the city is planning on focusing growth in its urban cores, and stop planning new suburban neighbourhoods, as more than 45,000 people are expected to move to the city by 2040.

With council unanimously giving the OCP second and third readings, the document will now go to the province for approval. After that, it will come back to city council for adoption, and shortly thereafter, council will vote on a few potential amendments resulting from concerns brought up during a lengthy discussion with the public on Tuesday evening (Oct. 26).

After council gave the OCP the thumbs up, Mayor Colin Basran tabled a motion to bring three issues brought up by several people at the public hearing to council as an amendment after the document is officially ratified in the coming months. These include a commercial area at The Ponds subdivision, the OCP’s planned drop in building heights along the Ellis Street corridor downtown to 20 storeys from 26, and the planned use of a High Road property to ease future residential development.

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Among the snubbed concerns are some of the most hotly combatted items, including issues with the document’s language regarding the city’s Heritage Conservation Areas on Abbott Street and Marshall Street.

Some residents felt the weak language, using words like “discourage” rather than “prohibit,” and land designation left the area open to redevelopment, but city planners said that’s not the case.

“The OCP does support the Heritage Conservation Area, and statements that this OCP is opening up that area to a lot more higher-density development – it is it isn’t accurate,” said OCP planner Robert Miles.

Several people also spoke to the OCP’s future land use map, designating eight properties along Watt Road, currently containing single-family homes, as future parkland. Residents complained of a lack of consultation and accused the city of trying to expropriate land for parks.

Staff explained the city has never and isn’t planning to expropriate land from residents for public use. Instead, the designation means the city will look to buy that land – at market value – if it goes up for sale.

“This will be a city-wide park that’s accessible to all people in our community if it one day gets built,” said Coun. Luke Stack. “I have to put my long-term hat on, my 100-year hat. Kelowna, 100 years from now, will they be needing more waterfront park on the lake? I think yes, they will…And we have to think of it in the longterm.”

Coun. Charlie Hodge tabled a motion to have another look at that parkland designation via an amendment, but it was turned down by the rest of council.

Overall, council lauded the “progressive” direction document and the work staff put into it.

“There is no question that this is probably staff’s finest hour,” said Hodge, a sentiment shared by his colleagues.

Basran said this OCP needed to send a signal that “we have to do things differently.”

“And I think it does that,” he said.

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@michaelrdrguez
michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com

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