Despite a city councillor’s description of a long-term lease for the Kelowna Paddle Centre on city-owned, lakefront land slated to one day become a park as a win for everyone, not all are applauding.
The president of the KLO Neighbourhood Association, covering the area in which the future parkland sits, reacted with disappointment to council’s unanimous support for the five-year lease.
Bob Whithead said the city appears to have ignored the recommendations of a charette on the future of the city owned lots along Abbott Street in the the south Pandosy area. They recommended the paddle centre be located at the south end of the properties, near Meikle Avenue, or in a yet-to-be built multipurpose building at the foot of Cedar Avenue.
Instead, the city will lease the club the the lot it currently uses and three adjoining ones along Abbott Street.
Whitehead described the land as the “best part of the (new) park.”
The club will turn a large existing house located on three of the four lots it will lease into its new clubhouse and with storage facility.
Coun. Luke Stack described the deal with the club as a win for the club because it gives it a new home and clubhouse, a win for the city because provides more recreation facilities for the public, a win for the future park because it will lead to its use and a win for the lake because paddlers participate in non-motorized, non-polluting recreation.
His council colleagues all agreed and, except for Coun. Robert Hobson who excused himself because of a conflict but said he supports the paddle centre, voted in favour of the lease complete with two two-year extension options.
Opponents to the inclusion of the paddle centre in the future park say it will close off part of the park to the general public because it will be fenced and only be open to club members.
But in her comments to council, the club’s director of programming, Sandy Redman, said membership is just one way of participating in club programs. In response to a question from Mayor Walter Gray, Redman said members of the general public will be able to go the club and try out different forms of padding even if they are not members.
She said the popularity of the club’s programs has grown substantially over the last year and the club now has 90 members, up from just 20 a few months ago.
She said over the summer, 150 children and 50 adults learned to paddle at the club’s current makeshift operations, where a large storage container holds kayaks, canoes, stand-up paddle boards, outriggers and equipment.
Backed by a gallery of bright fluorescent-yellow clad supporters, Redman told council the current location is perfect for the club as there is a shallow, sandy entrance to the lake, it is protected from motorized boats and the wind and is very safe especially for children learning to paddle.
She said by getting the lease, the land and the large house, it will allow the club to meet the demand it has received from the public for more programs.
The club will pay $2,500 per year for the first two years of the lease and $1 per year after that. It will move into the 278-square-metre house in mid-December.
City staff compared the agreement with the paddle club to existing agreements it has with groups such as the local badminton club, the lawn bowling club in CIty Park and the Kelowna Curling Club.
While the 12 city-owned lots that make up the land for the future park have yet to be rezoned, city councillors reminded the public no money has been budgeted for creation of a park and there is currently no plan on the table for what it would look like.
Whitehead, who was part of the charette for the Pandosy waterfront properties earlier this year, conceded the “deal is done,” when it comes to the paddle club despite the fact a public hearing on the rezoning will be held next week.for next week.
He said he wished the city had waited and created a proper plan for the park before negotiating the lease.