After months of discussion, West Kelowna council has given initial approval to the municipality’s new official community plan.
But the talking about the OCP may not be over yet.
Mayor Doug Findlater said the plan may have to become the subject of a second public hearing, depending on the outcome of discussions over concerns expressed by the development community.
“I’m not opposed to going back to public hearing with this,” said Findlater, as he closed the public hearing Tuesday night.
At the hearing, Urban Development Institute representative Rick Miller expressed concerns about several aspects of the plan, including requirements for land to be set aside for park and open space in the municipality. Others talked about concerns over aspects of land designation in the plan.
Findlater said council would look at those issues before second reading of the bylaw which would bring the plan into force, and decide if it needs to hold a second hearing.
Under B.C. law, once a council closes a public hearing it cannot accept any new information when considering a bylaw or a development project.
To do so it requires a new public hearing to be advertised and held.
Less than 20 people showed up for the public hearing Tuesday night, a much smaller crowd than the municipality had prepared for.
It even scheduled a possible second night for submissions but the meeting ended after only an hour. Some in the audience, however, were upset they did not have ample opportunity to review the draft OCP prior to the meeting. The OCP will guide future development in the municipality for the next five years.
Gary Marvin, a Westside Road resident, said he only learned of the OCP hearing the day before and had only found a copy of the OCP on the municipality’s website four days earlier. “I wish I had more time to review this document,” he told council.
Representatives of the UDI gathered over the weekend to draft a response to council.
But planning director Nancy Henderson said the document has been discussed for several months as staff have worked on it, public discussions have been held and public comment has been collected.
Prior to the meeting, Findlater even said he did not anticipate a large crowd because he felt the public had already weighed in on it.