There was an impassioned plea to save the Kelowna Springs Golf Club (KSGC) from possible, future industrial land designation at city council Monday (July 25).
Coun. Luke Stack made a motion to amend the 2040 Official Community Plan (OCP) to have the KSGC property deemed recreational, noting two specific pillars in the OCP.
“One pillar is take action on climate change, and the other pillar is protect and restore our environment,” said Stack.
The course, located at 480 Penno Road, is bordered by industrial lands to the west and south, and property in the Agricultural Land Reserve to the north and east. It was identified as a major opportunity for new industrial development in 2020. According to a staff report, at that time, the property owner approached the city to explore opportunities for either a commercial or industrial land use designation change.
Stack added that over the past 30 years several other golf courses have been turned into commercial and residential developments. He also pointed out that Shadow Ridge Golf Course was purchased by the city for future expansion of Kelowna International Airport, which he said he supported, and Michaelbrook Golf Course has recently designated future park space.
“So I argue that the collective loss of these green spaces is taking its toll on our citizens,” he added. “One by one they are being converted to other uses. Cumulatively the loss is significant.”
He also referenced the 2022 citizens’ survey, which noted a perception of worsening quality of life among Kelowna residents.
“I believe the loss of this private recreational space will contribute to a further perception that the quality of life is decreasing in Kelowna. At least that would be consistent with the theme of the people that are writing me the letters. They view this as a tremendous loss to our community.”
Discussion of Stack’s motion also generated a testy exchange between Coun. Maxine DeHart and Mayor Colin Basran.
“Just to set the record straight Kelowna Springs is not a private golf course,” said DeHart. “I book hundreds and hundreds of clients from my hotel there. The public can go on that course.”
She was interrupted by Coun. Wooldridge and the mayor.
“I might dare say that it’s a conflict if you’re sending business there,” said Basran.
DeHart answered that hotels all send business to KSGC, to which Basran replied it’s clear DeHart was making a decision on something she has a business relationship with.
“I’m not the one who needs to decide nor is it the business of the clerk or the city manager to advise you,” he said.
DeHart argued if that were the case then she would have to excuse herself from everywhere she sends business.
“I’m talking about tourism,” she said. “I won’t be doing that because there’s a lot of things today I would have had to excuse myself from.”
DeHart said she supports the need for more industrial land, but was torn about the KSGC property. Coun. Mohini Singh and Coun. Charlie Hodge was in favour of Stack’s motion.
Mayor Basran reiterated that the property owner approached city staff with the expectation they were going to cease operating and that the industrial designation was approved by council in the OCP.
“To now go ‘oops we missed that let’s relook at that’ when the owners have made life-altering decisions based on a decision by council just doesn’t sit well. I think for the greater good of our community we’ve done the right thing.”
Stack admitted he didn’t fully appreciate the potential industrial designation for KSGC when it was going through the OCP process.
“When it was highlighted to me what we had passed it really grabbed my attention. So I’ll take ownership of that.”
The motion passed with councillors Donn and Wooldridge and Mayor Basran opposed. Coun. Brad Sieben excused himself from the discussion and vote citing a conflict of interest as he provides insurance services to the property owner.