The time has come in Kelowna’s evolution for the Rutland community to embrace an updated and more vibrant identity, according local business leaders and residents.
But what form that new identity should take and what exactly is it that can revitalize Kelowna’s eastern and highest populated suburb are questions a new public survey is hoping to answer.
On Wednesday, The Rutland Unified Stakeholders Team outlined plans for the new survey that will be adminstered by fourth-year marketing students from UBC Okanagan.
“The time has come to identify what residents, businesses and UBCO students need to live, work and play in a thriving Rutland community,” said Laurel D’Andrea, executive director of the Uptown Rutland Business Association and member of the TRUST group.
“TRUST will explore areas such as shopping, services, health, financial entertainment, facilities, food and beverage.”
The 10-question survey will be targeted at post-secondary students, businesses and local residents, with questions for each altered to provide feedback specific to their individual demographic segments.
The UBCO students behind the surveys—Colin Gill, Connor Wain, Brett Haney and Rosanna Zhing, under the direction of university professor Ian Stuart—want to reach a wide cross-section of Rutland demographic groups to generate some consensus on how TRUST should move forward.
The surveys will be launched online today and can be electronically filled out until 3 p.m. on Nov. 25. The surveys can be accessed at www.uptownrutland.com starting Friday.
While there will be no printed version of the survey, those without access to a computer can fill out a printed
version at the URBA office at 158 Valleyview Road. The office phone number is 250-451-9861.
It is hoped that residents and business owners will circulate the surveys via social media to encourage a large response.
Other online options for filling out the survey
The students said there is a desire for Rutland to grow and prosper, which means bringing more residents to the community. They hope the surveys will generate conversation and ideas on how to change the current “negative” perception of the community.
Todd Sanderson, the new president of the Rutland Park Society, and a member of the TRUST group, said he hopes the survey responses will provide another step in the long-term rebranding of Rutland.
“TRUST was created
earlier this year with the idea of bringing one united voice in seeking support for what Rutland needs from city hall and from other levels of government,” said Sanderson.
“I think in the past groups such as URBA and the park society were speaking to their own parochial interests, and that made it easy for city hall to not make any infrastructure improvement commitments because our community wasn’t speaking to them with one unified voice.”
Sanderson said the current state of the Rutland core is very similar to what the South Pandosy area was facing 20 years ago.
“If you look at Asher Road in Rutland today, for instance, and look at pictures of Pandosy 15 years ago, the similarities of the two streets are striking.”
That has changed in the years since and Sanderson said the goal of TRUST is to bring similar change to Rutland’s business community.
Sanderson said creating change in Rutland’s business core has an impact on a wider area, which is why the Kirshner Mountain and Black Mountain residential developments have been asked for input on what TRUST might advocate for moving forward.
“When an Andrew Bruce with Melcor (Black Mountain developer) sits down with us and says you need to make some changes in Rutland in order to make residential
lots more appealing, we have to listen to that,” Sanderson said.
“We want to create change that will make our area a more appealing place to live and shop.”
Sanderson added the park society is also in ongoing talks with the city about the future management of Centennial Park and the Centennial Community Hall.
He said the society is not equipped to provide ongoing maintenance to the park’s sports fields, something the city is far better equipped to do—although propreitorship over the park and community hall would remain with the society.
As for the community hall, Sanderson said the facility needs a $90,000 investment just to get the building up to current building code, standards and the society is looking at a $1.5 million investment to upgrade the facility.
Some of the ideas being tossed around would be to expand the hall and relocate it to face the Roxby Square parking lot, more affordable daycare space, more space generally for community use and perhaps a “black box” theatre concept, similar to that at the Kelowna Community Theatre.
“Centennial Park is a jewel of this community that needs to be dusted off and updated a little in order to continue to be a focal point of Rutland,” Sanderson said.
Sanderson said it would be ideal timing to have the community hall upgrade done by 2017, its 50th anniversary.
“It would be appropriate to see that happen then but we will need help from various levels of government to help make it happen,” he said.