Kelowna city council. -Image: Alistair Waters

Kelowna council to look at urban vs. suburban growth

What would you like to see?

Kelowna council is dealing with an onslaught of opposition from developers to a plan that encourages funelling new housing into urban areas, but some are asking that they stay the course set out by a public consultation process.

Former Kelowna City Coun. Angela Nagy took to social media Monday morning and said she’d like to add her support to a city growth scenario that puts an emphasis on reducing suburban growth. That plan, which was initially approved by council in December, is returning to council today.

That growth scenario sets targets for multi-unit development in the city’s urban core, while containing growth in suburban neighbourhoods.

Staff said it will have implications on a number of planning tools. For the Official Community Plan, it will guide the development of a new Future Land Use Plan, which would indicate what uses are envisioned to accommodate the expected growth to 2040. It includes locations for commercial, industrial, institutional and other land uses. It also forms the foundation for the modelling work required to develop strategies and plans.

READ MORE: IMAGINE KELOWNA PROCESS

These changes are things that Nagy sees the value in.

“Kelowna businesses, particularly those in the tourism and tech industries which make up the largest sectors of our local economy, are already facing significant challenges attracting the talent and labour that we need, and the labour shortage in this community is predicted to get much worse over the next decade. A huge part of the problem is the lack of attainable housing choices,”she said in an open letter to council.

“Continuing to sprawl and building large, single-family dwellings on the outskirts of our community that are unaffordable and undesirable for the types of employees that local businesses are trying to attract is only going to further exacerbate the problem. Those employees that we so desperately need to continue growing our local economy will not be able to find the kinds of housing they want and will seek employment in more urbanized centres. It is already happening and that trend must be reversed.”

Nagy goes on to say that the city needs more business-friendly development; attainable, urban housing that meets the preferences of a new labour market.

READ MORE: URBAN PLANS ABOUND

“Besides the negative impacts on the local economy, more sprawl will make transportation and other infrastructure planning more costly,” she said.

The plan calls for 80 per cent of all new housing to be built in Kelowna between now and 2040 to consist of multi-family projects, with only 20 per cent in single-family homes.

It would require 81 per cent of all new housing construction to occur in urban areas with only 18 per cent in suburban areas.

The Urban Development Institute is one of many organizations to voice opposition.

“In order to achieve this growth scenario, lands in the South West Mission, Kirschner Mountain, and Wilden that are already supported by the official community plan for suburban growth will have to be re-designated with planned development cancelled,” the UDI says in its letter to the city.

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