It will likely be next week before residents in Glenmore learn how a new sustainability grant program initiated by the university is set to improve their neighbourhood.
UBCO has set aside $40,000 to be given out in $10,000 grants to studies promoting sustainability in the area.
“We think it’s a phenomenal initiative,” said John Harling, Glenmore Residents’ Association president. “It’s a little bit nebulous, though, because it’s a bit difficult to pin it down.”
Harling said the residents met with both Michelle Cam, from the City of Kelowna, and Leanne Bilodeau, UBCO’s director of sustainability, and are still unclear as to exactly what sustainability means, and therefore, what types of study fall under the purview of the funding.
The group had not heard from any academics making pitches for the money, either, though they have several suggestions of areas which they would like to see reviewed.
“We don’t have a community centre, a recreational facility, services. There’s a walk-in (medical) clinic, but very little else. We need to have some things where you can walk to mores,” said Harling.
The residents feel the pace of development in Glenmore has fragmented the valley with thoroughfares, slicing and dicing what was once largely orchards into spaces too difficult to traverse on foot. The result does not encourage the commercial development that’s needed to fill in the small nodes of neighbourhood because prospective business owners can’t see the traffic the foot-traffic they might get and those who don’t want to build a space have nowhere to put their office or shop.
“I think the city was quite surprised when we said we need more commercial development, but there’s nothing out there right now,” Harling added.
Rather than find themselves in a community where everyone commutes by car to work and stays behind their locked garage doors at night, Harling said the association wants to see policies, and first the studies, which would encourage smart development.
The residents are concerned about loss of wildlife—like depletion of the turtle population at Union Road—access to more community gardens and adding recreational facilities. There is also serious concern about the culverts on Brandt’s Creek, safer walking routes for school children and protection of parkland.
“We’re absolutely delighted they’ve chosen this area to have the projects,” he said. “We hope this will actually lead to some different attention given to growth because we want some quality of life back.”
The grants were to be allocated on March 4, but were held up at the review committtee level within UBCO; an announcement is expected next week.