The first step toward Tourism Kelowna getting full approval to build an information centre at the foot of Queensway is over — now one of the more controversial projects the city has seen in awhile goes to a public hearing.
Kelowna City Council approved first reading of an application to rezone the site from parks and open space to major institutional Monday, and the project earned widespread support among elected officials.
Coun. Luke Stack stole a line from Joni Mitchell and said he liked that the plan would “unpave a parking lot and put up a piece of paradise.”
“In my opinion it’s a lovely building and with the extensive walkway around it, it compliments the area,” he said. “It also respects covenant land.”
Initially, he said, he was concerned that it crossed Simpson covenant land, but the altered plans were heartening. As have been all the alterations by Tourism Kelowna since the public engagement phase has gotten underway.
Others expressed similar excitement for the openness to change, by Tourism Kelowna and the plan itself.
Coun. Charlie Hodge offered a critique, noting that he wasn’t sure that the time of the drive-thru tourism centre was truly over, but he too liked the overall plan.
“Given its location in the heart of our revitalized downtown, the future plans for Kerry Park and how it coincides with that, all the pieces are coming together,” said Mayor Colin Basran. “And if and when we get our downtown hotel… this will be an incredible place.”
Tourism Kelowna has been looking for a downtown location for its information centre for several years. A version of that plan was presented several months ago and was met with public opposition. Since then, they revamped the building decreased it inside and moved it off of the Simpson Covenant land.
Construction of the new $2.8 million building could begin next year with an early 2018 completion.