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‘Not a good deal for citizens:’ Kelowna council shuts door on ‘affordable’ housing for Doyle Ave. tower

Developer had set aside 26 studio units at $2,050/month
Conceptual rendering of 25-storey tower to be built at 350 Doyle Avenue. (Zeidler Architecture) Conceptual rendering of 25-storey tower to be built at 350 Doyle Avenue. (Zeidler Architecture)

The developer of a 25-storey high-rise being built on the old RCMP detachment site will need to come up with cheaper rent for some apartments in the building.

At its Nov. 21 meeting, council was to sign a housing agreement for the property at 350 Doyle Avenue, setting 10 per cent of the 259 units (26 studio apartments) at an ‘attainable rental rate.’

READ MORE: Kelowna council approves 25-storey Doyle Avenue tower amid controversy

The developer came up with a monthly amount of $2,050 based on a median, annual income of $82,000. Neither dollar figure sat well with council.

“I have a hard time squaring that when classifieds show studios at $1,300 a month,” said Coun. Luke Stack.

He also took issue that the studio units would only be advertised for one week at the affordable rate, and then rented out at the market rate.

Coun. Mohini Singh, who originally voted against the project for other reasons, noted the affordable housing aspect is what gained the support of council in the first place.

“This to me is a little bit disingenuous,” she said. “It’s not affordable or attainable. This is not a good deal for our citizens.”

At a public hearing in July, several students spoke in favour of the project. However, at the Nov. 21 meeting, more than one councillor asked whether those students understood the rents would be so expensive. Several comments were also made that the tower is being built on city-owned property.

“It does not fit in the boundaries of what we are trying to accomplish,” said Mayor Tom Dyas. “We need to lead the way

with a development that is on city property.”

Coun. Maxine DeHart took it a step further.

“I’m actually insulted by this report,” she said. “I struggled with this application from the beginning, but I was supportive of it because of the affordable housing. I’m shocked to see it now.”

Council voted unanimously not to sign the agreement, which now goes back to the developer for reconsideration.

“A word to the applicant, what council said should give the applicant good direction as to what we are looking for,” added Dyas.

READ MORE: RCMP serious crimes investigating after toddler found dead inside Kelowna home


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Gary Barnes

About the Author: Gary Barnes

Journalist and broadcaster for three decades.
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