To the editor:
Monday’s council decision regarding the Cedar Avenue waterfront lands as to whether they become park or a mixture of park and building left us pleased but unsatisfied.
A number of people appeared happy because council deferred any decision for an unknown period of time, but we expected council to be stronger and show more leadership and take it one step further. The exception was councillor Charlie Hodge who tried to encourage council to strive for more.
And so the OCP remains with all 11 properties designated with a large C9 (commercial) component. There was unanimous council support for staff’s second option to only put C9 on the north properties and designate the south properties as all park. However, council rejected that option because the north portion still had C9 and they felt that there would be continued public concern with that. Had staff presented council with a fifth option that offered changing the OCP to park for both north and south properties, we wonder how council would have debated it? It’s been obvious for some time that lakefront park is what the community wants, so why not give them a chance to vote on it?
Council reminded us at the close of the meeting to not take our frustrations out on staff because they are only following direction from council. Council meets with staff regularly at in-camera meetings where they get to speak to one another without the public. This is where a lot of pie-in-the-sky ideas and strategy is debated (rightly so). The most obvious option (for all park) could have been added then.
We are now being told that sometime in 2012 the city will organize a group of citizens to determine what is wanted. I have reviewed nearly everything said in the media and at public hearings and gatherings, and the lakefront park option is clearly what they want. It reminds me of that saying: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
To remedy the optics of this dog and pony show, we think council should quickly reconsider making a motion to change the OCP to all park. This does not mean it can’t be altered to some compromise or mix once the planners have met with the community. But having the OCP changed now is significant because it changes the focus of this fluid document to better reflect what council heard from the community.
The city might argue that changing the OCP would require substantial research, but if so, why did it only take them a few days to change the south properties from C9 to P3?
I wish we could be more positive and patient but I moved to Kelowna and the South Pandosy area in 1995 and there was talk of the park back then. The first property was acquired in the late ’80s and the last property was purchased 14 years ago.
To be honest, I don’t think there is any real intention of making the waterfront anything but a public walkway with a hotel and mix of condos and a restaurant.
Without leadership from council and a fall election looming we think the latest deferral is perfectly convenient for the city. However, if the OCP for the waterfront land is changed to P3 now, myself and hundreds or probably thousands of others will be 100 per cent behind council and staff and their plans to make the area vibrant. We can hash out the details and finances next year.
Finally, I want to personally thank the many hundreds of people who truly stepped up to the plate to stop a big boo-boo. It was a very wide and concerted effort for such a small piece of our city. You should be very proud of yourselves. We won the battle and now I just hope we don’t lose the war.