The former chairman of Tourism Kelowna is responding to what he calls misinformation, fear-mongering and a complete falsehood about plans for a new downtown visitors’ centre at the foot of Queenwsay.
In a letter released to the media Friday, Stan Martindale said contrary to what he has heard in the community, and seen in letters published in the local media by opponents to the visitors’ centre plan, the building will be set back from the water front twice as far as the existing Kelowna Yacht Club building just to the north of the proposed visitor centre site, there are no plans to add offices to the building “at a later date,” views of the lake will not be obstructed because of a generous use of glass in the vaulted-ceiling, the lakefront walkway will remain in front of the new one-storey building and the city is not “caving in to a special interest group,” because the local tourism industry is not a special interest group.
“The tourism industry is one of the largest industries in the city,” writes Martindale. “It is an industry that provides employment for thousands of people and pays millions in taxes every year that benefit all residents.”
He said the livelihoods of his 100 staff rely on Kelowna being able to attract tourist and increase the amount of time and money that is spent in the city.
“We look to Tourism Kelowna to do the bulk of this work,” he writes. “We need to give them the tools to do it.”
Martindale, the manger of the Ramada Hotel in Kelowna, said the high-profile location was well researched and chosen based on “facts, not fabrications or misinformation.”
While both Tourism Kelowna and the city say the visitor centre needs to be moved from its current location on Harvey Avenue (Highway 97) to the downtown core where the people are, detractors say they feel it should remain in its current location to capture passing vehicle traffic.
But proponents argue making the centre—and information about the area— more accessible to visitors who are already here, and who are likely to be in the area on foot as they stroll along the waterfront walkway, is more important.
Speaking to the Capital News, Martindale said he grew up here and has seen many changes over the last 50 years.
The need for a new, downtown visitor’s centre is one of those changes.
“We are not the sleepy little town we were in the 1960s and 1970s,” he said.
A public hearing is scheduled at city hall on the new visitors’ centre plan Jan. 24.