Open letter to Mayor Walter Gray:
The board of directors of Kelowna South-Central Association of Neighbourhoods are concerned about your suggestion that the Advisory Planning Commission be abolished.
KSAN feels strongly that this decision is a backward step in the development review process for the City of Kelowna for the following reasons.
It gives the developer and any affected city residents and businesses an opportunity to see the proposal before it goes before council. At this point suggestions for improvement are often made and then become incorporated into the development.
The interaction between developer and concerned residents has primarily been respectful. Kelowna citizens are able to see the full plan for the development as presented by the developer. This allows the developer a forum to present his plans to many people at one time and so is a benefit to the developer as well. It is generally a positive experience for all concerned.
Eliminating the APC would mean that concerned citizens would have a more difficult time expressing their concerns about a particular proposal. At the APC, people are given a five-minute window in which to express their opinions. It can be difficult for an ordinary person to speak before authority figures when they have a concern, but this venue has been made as comfortable as possible for most people, and therefore gives everyone an opportunity to relay their opinions to city staff and to various developers.
Not all proposals are large ones. Often they have involved small projects in one home that affect a neighbour, and this venue allows neighbours to air their grievances and come to an understanding of why one proposal is acceptable according to bylaws while another is not. This has often resolved possible neighbourhood conflicts.
It also would impact future council meetings if a proposed development were a controversial one and concerned citizens were only given that platform to speak against a particular development proposal.
Not all APC meetings have been smooth, as you well know, but they have often resolved controversial issues before they get to the council level.
Our understanding is that the members of the APC are volunteers with backgrounds that allow them to make informed decisions and suggestions about various development proposals. We have seen many good things come from APCs comments that are forwarded to city staff and council.
On behalf of the many citizens of Kelowna who are going to be negatively and positively impacted by future developments within our city boundaries, we urge you to retain the APC.