Two new parking lots slated for the South Pandosy area got the green light from city council Monday, although the council was none too thrilled with the poor planning that forced each maneuver.
The lots in question will be added to accommodate retail customers at the new Sopa Square development and patients heading into the new Kelowna General Hospital emergency ward.
In both cases, cars from the facilities were originally supposed to have been accounted for within the footprint of the buildings erected and, in the case of the hospital lot, that failure will mean a loss of heritage conservation space.
“This is a very difficult one for me because 30 years ago I did the planning, which lead to the heritage conservation area…We always thought of Royal Avenue area as sort of a ring fence,” said Councillor Robert Hobson, a staunch advocate for heritage conservation within the city.
The SOPA Square lot will be built on a lots at 459 Groves Avenue, and 437 and 442 Newsom Avenue, while the new Emergency Room parking abuts the hospital, though across the street, on Royal Avenue.
Hobson said he has, nonetheless, spent a lot of time at the KGH emergency room over the last year and is very aware the lack of parking is distressing for those using the hospital.
Admonishing Interior Health for not planning its campus build-out better in order to accommodate patient parking with greater ease, he thus endorsed the parking lot, as did every other city councillor.
Mayor Walter Gray, for his part, suggested the heritage zone was still an arbitrary line drawn on a map, at the end of the day, and pointed out the hospital’s expansion, and the city’s expansion, was completely unforeseeable at the time it was drawn.
The developers of Sopa Square, meanwhile, got off the hook with far less discussion. Councillors noted they did not like the fact the development would not include enough underground parking to serve its customers, as promised, but praising the plan for providing very reasonable access to the shops.
“I like the fact staff have worked with this developer on this driveway that’s almost a common area for pedestrians as well, and delivery drop-off,” said Coun. André Blanleil.
Both lots will have covenants placed on the property to bar further development and ensure the space remains for parking.