(File photo)

(File photo)

West Kelowna council split over hotel/spa development

Project was to include up to 172-room hotel, spa, restaurant and tourist cabins

A destination resort spa and hotel proposed for West Kelowna’s Shannon Lake neighbourhood has been stopped in its tracks.

With one councillor away from the March 22 regular meeting, a vote to give first and second reading to rezoning bylaws was split three for and three against. The Province of B.C. procedure bylaw guide states that if there is a tie vote at a municipal or regional district board meeting, the motion is defeated.

In voting against the motion Councillor Doug Findlater said rezoning and Official Community Plans focus on land use.

“This is currently zoned for housing,” said Findlater. “To change it away from that to basically a commercial enterprise, we’re going to lose that opportunity for housing in our community.”

Loewen Development Group is proposing the project for vacant land at Shannon View Drive and Shannon Lake Road. Named Baden Spa, the development includes an estimated 172-room hotel, spa, restaurant, an apartment for employees, and ten tourist cabins.

With house prices at record levels and a limited supply, Findlater said council needs to do everything it can to help keep and build housing stock.

“This may not solve the housing crisis in itself,” he added. “But every little bit helps in the sense that if you put more housing on the market it’s going to be available to somebody and it’s going to help keep the price down.”

The property was rezoned in 2013 to make way for a proposed 49-unit townhouse development that was never built. It has sat empty since.

“I’m very familiar with it,” said Findlater. “I’m not sure why the development didn’t proceed, but I would like to see it remain as housing. The province is looking at changing processes so municipalities can bring more housing on-stream faster. I simply don’t see a luxury hotel, it that’s what it is, as contributing to that.”

The developer does have another opportunity to have the project approved, however. Mayor Gordon Milsom has the prerogative to bring the proposal back to council for reconsideration.

“Our mayor may want to do that, but given the opposition to it, it’s putting it all on one person,” added Findlater.

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City of West Kelownadevelopment