Council asked to reject twin tower proposal

On March 6, Kelowna city council will have an open meeting regarding a major project at Doyle Avenue and St. Paul Road in Kelowna.

To the editor:

On March 6, Kelowna city council will have an open meeting at City Hall to hear an application by Premier Pacific Group, which is planning to build a major project on the parcel of land directly behind The Madison building at Doyle Avenue and St. Paul Road in Kelowna.

The proposal seeks to run roughshod over existing bylaws by including two highrise towers of 22 and 26 storeys.

It is proposed that these two highrise buildings will have 241 residences, nine live/work studios, plus office space and would operate as short-term residential hotel accommodation, rented out on a daily basis.

Kelowna definitely needs quality downtown accommodation and the city council has developed a workable community plan that prevents over-development, protects view corridors and introduces space between highrise buildings.

Sadly, the proposal by Premier Pacific Group seeks to ignore our city council’s carefully crafted Official Community Plan, to seek numerous variations to the city bylaws that were designed to protect and enhance the aesthetic quality of our downtown.

The developers will argue that the bylaws should be varied so they can build a gigantic twin tower monolith on a tiny plot of land approximately 18 feet behind The Madison development.

They will say their project will bring attainable  housing to the downtown because of the  number of smaller studios in their development.

They will produce a visual impact assessment that pictures those 22 and 26-storey buildings as almost the same height as the adjacent 15-storey Madison building.

They will also ask the council for permission to allow the development to proceed with a significantly reduced number of car parking spaces, which means that hundreds of extra vehicles would be forced to clog up much needed parking in the vicinity.

In return for granting this extraordinary planning permission, the developers would free up a small amount of space for an art gallery in the building.

They will also discuss a spurious scheme for short-term accommodation for visitors to our local hospital as a ploy to disguise the lack of parking within the building.

There will also be suggestions that valuable jobs can only be created in the community by letting this twin tower proposal proceed rather than just being a single tower, and that the city council will be failing the community if they do not accede to the developer’s demands.

The current OCP is actually perfectly suited for downtown and the rules clearly state that the body of the building above the base should contribute, but not dominate the physical and visual quality of the streetscape.

It suggests a minimum distance of 40 metres between highrise developments and has great guidelines to preserve view corridors between buildings.

So it is amazing to me to see  Premier Pacific applying to build an extra 22-storey building only 10 feet away from a 26-storey building on this extremely small plot.

I am an interested party because I live downtown at The Madison on Ellis Street.

I have a vested personal interest in seeing downtown develop in a mature, intelligent and forward thinking way.

I believe that the newly elected city council shares these views and that the majority of Kelowna residents would also want to see downtown development proceed based on fantastic architectural design, rather than demonstrable corporate greed trying to get a “quart into a pint plot.”

I ask Kelowna residents to stop approval of this oversized development by attending the council meeting on March and arguing that the variances should not be granted.

You can also write to the Kelowna city clerk and suggest that the existing bylaws are perfectly adequate for successful downtown development.

Why should these greedy developers be allowed to effectively double the permitted density of the plot and ruin the skyline of our downtown?

Surely a 26-storey tower positioned to guarantee all view corridors and with adequate parking, which wouldn’t impact the local community, should generate sufficient profit for any developer—even in today’s tough economic climate.

You could also write to city council to express your concerns, but be sure the letter reaches council by March 5 to be considered by the councillors.

You could also sign our online petition:

Maxwell Mosley, Kelowna

Kelowna Capital News

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