Support and opposition to the Sol Aqua development in West Kelowna seemed to be almost evenly split at a public hearing Feb. 9.
The waterfront development, formerly known as Blackmun Bay, would see 45 to 60-townhomes on Campbell Road between Westbank First Nation land the Casa Loma Lakeshore Resort. There are also plans for a 60-boat dock. That’s a dramatically scaled-back plan from the one presented to the community in 2019. It featured four separate complexes with up to nine stories consisting of 348 condo units, 60 townhomes, a 120 room hotel, 750 plus parking stalls, and a 241 boat slip marina.
Concerns over the Sol Aqua development are the same as the Blackmun Bay proposal. Residents are worried about Campbell Rd. being the only evacuation route in case of a wildfire, density, traffic congestion and pedestrian safety, sewage capacity. What will happen to the Agricultural Land Reserve portion of the project is also a concern.
“A survey of residents found 92 per cent oppose Sol Aqua,” said Ryan Holt, president of the Casa Loma Community Association. “But most could support a further scaled-down version of the project. One row of townhomes would minimize the impact on the community.”
Many of those supporting the development said Sol Aqua has clearly listened to council and community concerns and has come back with a significantly scaled-back redesign. That prompted one speaker to accuse them of “reading from a developer script.”
Other supporters said the development would have several benefits for West Kelowna.
“It’s clear to me the developer has listened and made the appropriate changes to the density, scope, and scale,” said Craig Garries. “This is an investment in the housing supply and will support the growth of tourism in the community.”
Other concerns centred around the appearance of the development on the hillside above Okanagan Lake.
“It’s going to leave a big scar,” said Scott Rowland. “Let’s show some pride and not allow this desecration by the developer.”
Council has given second reading to OCP and rezoning bylaws to allow the Sol Aqua development. It will discuss the public hearing comments at its next regular meeting.