West Kelowna church expansion a no-go

The developer pulled the application to expand Evangel Baptist Church

A West Kelowna church’s plan to build might not move forward after all, as the developer for the 1080 Devon Road property pulled the application.

Now, city staff are recommending that council rescind the first readings of amendments to the Official Community Plan and the zoning bylaw in order to close the file and abandon it.

Evangel Baptist Church’s plan to build on the site raised some concerns, as area residents indicated they weren’t consulted about the development. Some residents were concerned about wildlife habitat in the area that could be disturbed if the expansion went ahead, with the main concern being habitat for the western painted turtle.

Western painted turtles are an at-risk species, with the Okanagan population seeing an increase in vehicular deaths this year. The deaths have been so prominent this year that the City of West Kelowna is in the process of installing trail cams along Westlake Road to monitor turtle behaviour and figure out how to help them cross the road safely.

Residents even put together a petition asking the city not to move forward with the church’s application, which garnered over 2,600 signatures.

The church initially applied for a 6,000 square feet expansion, including a 55-stall parking lot and a driveway that will access Westlake Road.

During the June 23 council meeting, Counc. Doug Findlater said the turtle habitat in the area has long been a unique feature in the area.

“You’ve got two ponds at each end of the road, and I guess they migrate back and forth and they get squished if they get on the road,” he said.

“(Addressing it) will make a lot of people a bit happy that they’re not seeing carnage there.”

Council asked the developer to engage with the community and let residents know what to expect with the proposed expansion. Council also requested for more information regarding the development then.

Council will make the final decision on Tuesday night (July 28) during the meeting.

READ: ‘Give turtles a brake’: Conservation group asking motorists to slow down

READ: Westbank First Nation’s museum doing well despite increasing COVID-19 cases

Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
Follow me on Twitter

City of West Kelowna

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