Interior Health found itself at the losing end of a rezoning application Tuesday, when a lone Kelowna doctor offered a compelling argument against paving her property to put up a parking lot.
During a public meeting Kelowna city council approved Dr. Heather Martin’s bid to have her newly purchased house at 320 Strathcona Ave. rezoned so it could be used as a medical practice, not just a residence.
Generally speaking the idea of a medical office next to the Cancer Lodge and across the street from Kelowna General Hospital would fit with all city plans, but in this case the property is adjacent to several others the health authority picked up to create temporary parking.
The health authority wrote council to air their displeasure, noting that a lack of parking stalls is a much lamented issue at the hospital and they had hoped to pick up Martin’s newly acquired property so they could pave the way for more cars.
Dr. Martin, however, argued that the lack of doctors is also a problem that she was addressing in her proposal.
“This initiative is of fundamental importance to my career as a physician in Kelowna,” she said, noting that a total of three doctors would work at the practice.
That conflict in priorities created a bit of schism among councillors.
Coun. Colin Basran pointed out he’s all for supporting endeavours that keep young educated people in the city, however, parking was of more importance in this case.
“Other houses in the area would be a better fit,” he said.
Coun. Luke Stack and Gerry Zimmerman offered similar sentiments, casting their support behind parking potential.
Couns. Gail Given, Robert Hobson, Maxine DeHart, Mohini Singh and Mayor Walter Gray chose doctors.
Given said she went into the meeting thinking she was against Dr. Martin’s proposal, but was swayed by her argument.
” I was very concerned we would be left with a single house floating amongst a parking lot,” said Given.
“I don’t believe that we hinder the development potential of Interior Health should they have an alternate use for that site.”
Also not working in favour of the parking lot potential was the simple fact that Dr. Martin had picked up the property before Interior Health saw it’s value.
“We asked if IH would buy it when we realized we were about to be isolated and surrounded in parking lots,” said Derek Brown, the owner who sold to Dr. Martin.
He was told that it wasn’t in the plans, so they were pleased when Martin came knocking on their door.
The deal was almost complete when IH changed their tune.
That was enough for Mayor Gray, who noted he subscribed “to the willing buyer willing seller” way of doing things.
Also, the parking potential is likely negligible.
“I salute Dr. Martin for sticking to her guns,” he said.
Martin should take possession in May.