We chose this story as our No. 3 top story of 2018 because not only was it remarkable that council pumped the brakes on what seemed like a done deal, the development’s impact on the city may one day be significant.
It was a case of creating one urban centre too many for Kelowna council this past year in deferring an ambitious redevelopment proposal for the Capri-Landmark Urban Zone.
While the proposed redevelopment of the Capri Centre had council’s endorsement, the extension of the plan to include a renewed urban centre that would complement the expanding Landmark Towers development was met with resistance.
That resistance was led by three commercial building landlords—Sapphire Construction, Tom McNamara and Lambert & Paul Construction—who took up issue with their existing commercial properties within the urban zone—housing more than 50 businesses and some 500 employees—being appropriated under the proposal.
The main culprits were the proposed expansion of Sutherland Avenue and the reconfigeration of parkland zoning.
The three took their case directly to city hall, and ultimately council voted to defer the proposal, setting aside a process that Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran had championed as an example of model future planning for anticipated city growth while acknowledging the negative impacts on some long-time commercial property owners.
Coun. Luke Stack said ultimately he felt the Sutherland Avenue extension was not well thought out and doubted it would ever be built, the road extension also being an issue of concern voiced by many of his fellow councillors.
Coun. Gail Given was the lone councillor to defend Basran’s vision, calling the Landmark urban zone proposal as filling “a hole in the middle of our community plan that has huge potential to be a phenomenal live-work-play neighbourhood.”
The mayor went along with the majority of council, but did comment on Stack’s viewpoint as being “shrewd politicking” with a civic election just a month away.
Stack fired back that his position was not based on any sudden adverse reaction to the urban zone proposal but concerns that he had cited on previous occasions throughout the planning process.
As for the trio of landlords, at least one of them feels the fight is not over.
Bob Curell, one of the family ownership partners with Sapphire Construction, expects the city planning department to raise the Sutherland extension proposal again in the near future.
“Although we were able to persuade the council to defer the Capri Landmark Urban Centre plan in September, it’s our sense that the planning/transportation department will be coming back to council in 2019 with a list of unworkable Landmark transport alternatives that will once again, under (city) planning’s direction, push the Sutherland extension to the top of the list,” said Curell.
He said the addition of the new 23-storey Landmark Tower 7 announced last week will cause the city planning department to revisit existing transportation routes sooner rather than later.
Curell added the Capri Centre redevelopment aspect of the urban zone plan should be allowed to proceed.
“For the rest of the Landmark area I would have thought a moratorium on other types of development would have been put in place until some of the planning issues can be resolved, but I guess Landmark Towers seemed to think otherwise,” Curell said.