Bylaw enforcement, storm water management and development concerns were highlighted at West Kelowna Residents’ Association’s inaugural town hall meeting last week.
More than 70 residents attended the meeting at Super 8 in West Kelowna April 10.
Smith Creek Residents’ Association, Shannon Lake Neighbourhood Association, Green Bay Property Owners’ Association, Casa Loma Resident Homeowners’ Association and the WKRA were all represented at the forum.
Each association had five minutes to speak about any issue of its choice. But one resident’s concerns voiced in the latter part of the meeting sparked the largest applause of the evening.
“The vision of where West Kelowna is going, I believe, is being left up to the developers,” he said.
“The liveability of West Kelowna is under constant threat by out of control development; the OCP (Official Community Plan) is under constant threat by constantly being amended; the people who have lived in the affected areas long before there ever was a District of West Kelowna are under threat of losing their lifestyle and their investment as their neighbourhoods get turned into ugly subdivisions.”
Several others in attendance shared similar concerns.
Dave Mathieson spoke on behalf of the Shannon Lake Neighbourhood Association. He used his five minutes with the microphone to talk about the need for better connectivity between neighbourhoods.
“People have created a lot of ways to get between neighbourhoods, but not very formally. What we’d like to look at is a vision with other neighbourhood associations…where we actually hook up neighbourhoods and make it easier for kids, pedestrians, joggers and cyclists to get around,” said Mathieson.
The Smith Creek Residents’ Association discussed bylaw enforcement and the slow process to get issues resolved.
Currently bylaw enforcement is complaint-driven; however, the group called for the district to rethink that strategy and perhaps encourage officers to proactively deal with problems before complaints have been received.
Joe Gluska spoke on behalf of the Casa Loma Resident Homeowners’ Association. He said the district’s “band-aid approach” to dealing with storm water management in his area isn’t working.
Gary Gylytiuk, president of the Green Bay Property Owners’ Association, explained residents’ ongoing frustrations regarding the infilling of Green Bay with waterborne sediments from the surrounding uplands.
WKRA president Mike Trenn questioned some of the district’s priorities for spending.
He said rather than spending money on wine trail upgrades, the district could improve several “liveability issues” facing many local neighbourhoods.
“For $3 to $5 million, you could fix up a lot of the junk that goes on in these neighbourhoods that has been described today. I’m not sure why we’re not putting these into priorities,” said Trenn.
West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater said nearly all of council was present at the meeting with “eager ears” to hear the community’s concerns.
“We heard some of the same kinds of issues…at the council meeting when the residents’ associations appeared before us,” said Findlater.
“There are obviously people who are not happy about development—we hear that from time to time at public hearings.
“Perhaps we will look at the issue of whether we have early consultations (between the developer and residents) mandated again.”
Another issue that stood out for the mayor was the appetite for more proactive bylaw enforcement.
Findlater said there are pros and cons that would come with that type of enforcement.
“That’s a broader discussion for council to have; it’s also a very broad discussion for this community to have: How much bylaw do they want?” said Findlater.
“Because we get pushback every time a bylaw is enforced and somebody doesn’t like them coming around.”
Trenn said the town hall meeting was effective.
“We tried to understand each other’s problems and support each other (where) we can. I think some good, creative ideas came out of the (discussion).”