Kelowna City Council quashed a rezoning application on Monday which would’ve paved way for a sizable commercial development on land currently zoned for agricultural use.
Council turned down applications for a rezoning and OCP amendment, in line with city staff’s recommendations.
Proposed for the corner of Byrns and Benvoulin roads, the developer’s plans included a Petro-Canada gas station, convenience store with liquor sales, car wash, and two general commercial retail buildings.
However, city staff noted other similar services are already very close by and several gas stations are within 1.2 kilometres, as well as the Guisachan Village Centre, Midtown Urban Centre and KLO corner.
City staff also said the Benvoulin area is considered an important agriculture corridor for both existing agricultural activity and heritage.
Owner Gary Johal said he has been looking for a tenant for the land for the past two years. He noted the site’s small, two-acre size, saying he believed the site wouldn’t support meaningful agricultural use.
Council ultimately agreed with city staff.
“Benvoulin is such a high-intensity agricultural corridor and it’s such a treasured part of Kelowna,” said Coun. Mohini Singh, noting she would like to see some sort of development in that corner, though not something of the magnitude proposed in this case. “It certainly could do with a facelift.”
Coun. Charlie Hodge said the developer was essentially “rolling the dice” that the development would be approved and said with ever-progressing farming technology the land could be used for its intended purpose.
“There’s a number of people I know who, with two acres of land, could produce a tremendous amount of agriculture.”
Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran, while recognizing the plight of the developer, said the project is commercial sprawl into an area where “it doesn’t belong.”
“It was known upfront that the risks of developing this property were at the owner’s peril,” he said.
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