The Kelowna Legacy Group won’t give up on its vision for Kelowna’s downtown cultural district.
The city entered a $7-million, 99-year lease agreement with RISE Commercial Developments for a portion of the former RCMP site at 350 Doyle Avenue in June, with the developer showing plans for a mixed-use commercial-residential complex.
Of those lease funds, the city said it would use $4.3 million to construct a 6,000-square-foot cultural space, a new civic plaza, and extend the Artwalk to Doyle Avenue.
But the Legacy Group said city councillors can still change their mind.
“This is city land and it should not be given away,” the group said in a news release.
The Legacy Group formed in October 2019 after a request for proposals was put out by the city. It released a video, showing a rendering of how the area, bordering city hall, could be developed.
When considering the $4.3 million the city will spend to develop its portion of the site, the group says, the city will be left with just $2.7 million, equating to about $2,272 per month for 99 years.
“This would be equivalent to the rent payable for a small office or downtown apartment on a property that could redefine the vision of our downtown core.
“In our opinion, this is a virtual give-away based on an outdated, limited Civic Precinct Plan.”
The city conducted the Civic Precinct Plan’s community consultation more than five years ago, and the Legacy Group claims only a small number of residents took part in those discussions — 113 completed a survey and 138 attended two public information sessions.
“With our community in mind, this is a very small community engagement, recognizing that The Legacy Group’s website, which was created within the last year, already has over 600 followers who are concerned about this project proceeding.”
The Legacy Group is ultimately urging city council to revisit its decision on the lease and re-engage the community.
“With the benefit of hindsight, there is no rush to dispose of this legacy property, just to enable the City to complete a walkway and a civic square, with the developer’s capital. This will limit future councils’ ability to envision something greater. With the multitude of new factors at play and more comprehensive citizen engagement, one can only imagine what could have been envisioned.
“As a citizen, do you feel 100 rental units is the best use of this key piece of civic property?” questioned the release.
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