West Kelowna Councillor Rick de Jong would have preferred to have seen a proposal to fight high-rise fires included in the Official Community Plan (OCP) when council adopted the document during its regular meeting on Sep. 12.
He pointed out that an update is coming.
“But yet I’m being asked to vote today on the OCP. To my chagrin, I would rather be voting on the OCP in the weeks ahead when the fire chief has an opportunity to rest and tell us when we are going to have the plan.”
Fire Chief Jason Brolund, who has been busy with his department’s response to the McDougall Creek wildfire, said the plan was already being worked on when the blaze started.
“My concern was that we would have a wildfire. I think for every day of firefighting it has probably set us back two or three days of recovery.”
Brolund told council he intended to present the plan before budget deliberations began in December.
de Jong suggested council delay adopting the OCP until then.
“I would rather give him the time to catch his breath and give us a proper answer on this when he has had time to rest and wrap his mind around it again than to ram it through now without having that plan.”
Mayor Gord Milsom disagreed that there was an attempt to push through adoption of the OCP.
“We’ve been working on it for three years and I appreciate the hard work of our staff. I’m confident that fire protection needs for our high-rise structures will be met well before the completion of any high-rises.”
He reiterated that Brolund had provided a time frame for his report.
“If an individual council member isn’t satisfied with this time frame you can vote accordingly.”
Future approvals of tall buildings would be contingent on the fire department’s ability to protect them and conformity to OCP, according to Brent Magnan, director of development approvals.
An OCP outlines the long-term vision for a municipality that guides planning and land-use management.
Coun. Jason Friesen said council could still adopt the OCP and added high-rise buildings can’t be built until rezoning is complete.
“The rezoning process can’t start until the OCP is adopted,” he said.
de Jong was the only councillor to vote against adopting the OCP.
At its Sep. 20 meeting, the city’s Advisory Planning Commission (APC), will review a zoning bylaw amendment that could allow an eight-story commercial/residential building planned for Hoskins and Dobbin roads (Highway 97 South).