Kelowna city council approved rezoning for a controversial development proposal planned for the waterfront in the Mission area Tuesday.
The Mission Group wants to build a residential development called Aqua, which would feature three high-rise towers, one 13 storeys high, one 16 storeys and a third 19 storeys. They would be located just north of the Eldorado Hotel and encompass five existing lots with single family homes and the existing boat storage facility on Lakeshore Road at Cook Road. The current height maximum in the area is six storeys.
But while council approved the rezoning of the land to tourist residential—which allows rentals of less than 30 days—several councillors put the developer on notice that they are concerned about the size of the proposed development.
Following a lengthy public hearing Tuesday night, when many area residents urged council to reject the proposal, councillors said they felt the rezoning was appropriate but the massing and height of the proposed towers‚ which will require variances when the development permit is applied for later—is a concern.
The project, said to be years in the making by the developer, did have some supporters but most who spoke at the public hearing—which was just about the rezoning and not the height or massing—said the project would be not be good for the area.
Project opponents complained about potential traffic problems on three roads already having problems—Lakeshore, Truswell and Cook—and said adding 350 more housing units to the area won’t help. Several said they feel it will destroy what they say is a quiet, relaxed residential area.
The proposal will include public amenities like more access to the lakeshore, a boardwalk and an extension of Cook Road, which the city says will help connect traffic to Gordon Drive and thus ease traffic problems.
City staff supported the rezoning saying it fits in with the future land use designations for the area in the city’s official community plan.
But it will also result in the loss of 57 parking places from the number currently available in the large lot at the site now. And residents say that is problematic as there is already not enough parking and that is affecting streets like Truswell.
A new four storey boat storage facility will also be built as part of the project to replace the existing boat storage facility on the site but it will be mainly for the residents of the new development.
The Cook Street boat launch, located beside the site, is the busiest boat launch on Okanagan lake, council was told.