A mock design for the development on Rogers Road. - Carli Berry/Capital News

Year in Review: Developers eyes up Lake Country as speculation tax looms

Coun. Penny Gambell wonders if there’s a better way to tackle development

The speculation tax which is set to be implemented in Kelowna and West Kelowna in the new year, has developers eyeing up Lake Country.

“As a developer, we’re of a size and nature that we’re going to be in multiple municipalities at one time, but we’re going to go where the risk factors are taken out for us and where we see the potential,” said Renee Wasylyk, CEO of Troika. “They’ve got almost 7,000 jobs on the north end of Kelowna with very little housing of any nature.”

B.C. Finance Minister Carole James delivered her promise to impose a speculation tax on homes that sit vacant more than half of the year, focused on urban areas with high housing prices and low rental vacancy rates.

Airbnb regulations have yet to be rolled out in Kelowna, which made Lake Country and enticing option.

RELATED: Kelowna developer warns home buyers to look at more than the price tag

With John Hindle Drive’s completion, and the proximity to the Kelowna International Airport and other amenities, developers are looking to that area at the north end of Kelowna, Wasylyk said.

The district’s Official Community Plan draft also lists the south end of Wood Lake to one day be high-density residential.

Major development housing projects are ongoing in the district, and include: Lakestone on Tyndall Road, a 28 unit multi-family site and 109 single family lots, a 76 unit townhouse on Lake Hill Drive, a 65 unit townhouse on Oceola Road, 16 single family lots of Okanagan Centre Road East, 10 unit townhouse on Rogers Road, an 84 unit townhome on Shoreline Way and 10 unit townhomes on Stillwater Court.

“I think Lake Country has been very progressive on how they positioned themselves as not just a sleepy suburb of Kelowna, but actually as a very attractive place to live, work and play,” Wasylyk said.

However, in recent talks, Coun. Penny Gambell has set her sights on how development is done in Lake Country, and wants a focus around wildlife.

A World Wildlife Federation report released in 2018 said humanity has killed 60 per cent of fish, birds, mammals and reptiles between 1970 and 2014, something Gambell said she’s seen examples of in the community.

READ MORE: One Okanagan council is starting to consider their effect on the environment

“I’ve lived here all my life. Now I haven’t seen the deer population disappear, it’s a little less so than it was lately but it’s hunting season… but it’s the other animals. When The Lakes built up on the hill there, we saw so many mice come down to the farm, that was their area where they lived; that was mice and gophers,” she said.

“I think one of the problems we have is we are not focusing maybe as much on those corridors. We’ve got it in our Official Community Plan, we talk about it, but are we addressing it appropriately? I question that.”


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