It may no longer have the title of B.C.’s fastest-growing municipality, but development in Lake Country is moving along with its growing population.
In 2016 the municipality reached a population size of 12,922, an increase of 10.4 per cent from the previous census of 11,708 in 2011, according to census data.
The population increase is because of the location of Lake Country, being close to UBCO, the airport, Kelowna and Vernon, said Jamie McEwan, community development manager for the district.
Young families and professionals continue to take an interest in the municipality.
“People are starting to move to Lake Country as young professionals and families have an increased interest for the area, with the quality and cost compared to the Lower Mainland,” said McEwan. “That’s evidence with the high demand for schools in the area.”
The average population of the district still remains around the retirement age, he noted.
The district is moving towards reaching a population of more than 20,000 by 2030, as outlined in its Official Community Plan. Development is well underway around the Town Centre on Main Street and the highway corridor, said McEwan.
For residential development, Winfield and Okanagan Centre are the top wards, with development around Lakestone in Okanagan Centre, he said.
“For Winfield, we’ve seen a lot of growth in the established neighbourhoods and a lot of infill of other developments in terms of residential growth.”
Lake Country has more the 40 per cent of its land dedicated as agricultural, as outlined in the OCP. The areas identified for growth were made to preserve agricultural land, said McEwan.
“Also having development in areas where people can afford it, so not building in areas where there’s inadequate servicing, or where it might be too costly to service, or in areas where it’s a bit more sustainable in the long term,” he said.
“Where we’re trying to concentrate development now, really that’s an attempt to limit sprawl and preserve land so that the community does have development in some areas that will be a little bit denser, but what that will do is create a community where we are able to still have great untouched natural areas.”
With denser housing in the Town Centre, Lake Country residents can expect nothing similar to the recently approved 33-storey hotel tower set to be built in Kelowna. The tallest buildings in the district can reach a maximum of six-storeys in the Town Centre, with three or four-storey buildings elsewhere.
“Six storeys is the absolute maximum in Lake Country in terms of height of what you could do, and we haven’t seen a lot of interest in going that high so far,” said McEwan.
“Density doesn’t have to be done with high rises either… you have to also be mindful if you don’t account for the other land uses around it, towers can actually be a form of sprawl… where if you don’t have services around it in a complete community, you can actually end up in a situation where you have a tower of people that still have to drive and commute to work long distances. It’s about putting density in the appropriate places.”
The type of residential developments that have been proposed in Lake Country are also changing, moving from single-family residential to a greater interest in townhomes and apartments, said McEwan. The district has also been looking at purpose-built rental housing.
A list of the latest developments provided by McEwan:
• a near completion of The Lakes
• high amounts of movement in Lakestone and surrounding properties
• more movement of properties and new development near and within the McCoubrey Plateau area
• increased interest in infill projects in the Pretty/Robinson/Okanagan Centre Rd East neighbourhood
• medium and higher density proposals in and around the Woodsdale neighbourhood
• new commercial growth along the Highway 97 corridor
• increased interest in properties in and nearby the Town Centre, including a mixture of commercial and higher density residential proposals.
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