Open letter to citizens of Kelowna:
According to the 2008 Citizen Survey, community access to waterfront park space is one of the top three things that make Kelowna a liveable city.
The City of Kelowna is proposing to rezone city owned lakefront property on Abbot Street at the foot of Cedar to C9 – Tourist Commercial. The purpose of C9 is to designate and preserve land for the orderly development of commercial visitor accommodation. This zoning allows for a six storey hotel.
I believe the city is making a very big mistake giving away our city owned lakefront property to be sold to a developer. It cuts off the lake frontage to the rest of South Pandosy. Let me be clear on what I mean by giving away our lakefront land. Family friends bought a 1/2 acre lakefront property in McKinley Landing for $8,300 in 1968 at market value. I know that the property value today is well over $1 million.
The city will be selling our property on Abbott Street (our taxes paid for this property) at market value. My children and my children’s children will consider selling this property at today’s market value as giving it away.
I had the pleasure to hear an esteemed planner speak about Strategies for Downtown Revitalization at the Building Sustainable Communities conference at The Delta Grand in November last year. Public space, recreation, culture and arts were the driving factors of vibrant city centres. South Pandosy has an amazing opportunity to be a vibrant city centre and maintaining public lakefront access should be a priority!
I spoke to a number of city councilors to find out why they would possibly want to give away our city owned lakefront properties. The only councillor opposed to the proposal was Charlie Hodge. Below are reasons why the city staff and the councillors believe rezoning to C9 should happen. I then added my arguments against each point.
1) Poor water quality for a beach
- City sewage is discharged about 1 km out at a depth of 180 feet and the discharge is pure and not Chloroform contaminated.
- Even if water quality is an issue this could be a perfect spot for kayaks, canoes and other recreation access to the lake and possible club house where water quality not an issue! We also need more dog friendly parks.
2) Cost recovery (to have money to develop parks throughout Kelowna)
- DCC’s that developers are charged in the South Pandosy area include fees for Park Acquisition.
- As South Pandosy develops, the DCC’s will be significant as will the tax base. SOPA Square alone will contribute close to $800,000 in tax revenue for city of Kelowna each year once built – with no extra infrastructure costs.
- Many other new developments along Pandosy will be contributing to the tax base of the city to help pay for the development of this park.
- Having a lakefront park in this area will raise the value of the existing properties further encouraging development which will add to the tax base of the city.
3) Mission has more than enough parks.
- South Pandosy is about to get much more densely populated in future years and existing parks will not be enough.
- Lakefront property is a treasure and once sold will be gone for our future generations!
- All of Kelowna benefits from more lakefront parks (not just the Mission) as tourists and all Kelowna residents come to enjoy the lakefront.
4) The C9 zone must be big enough to do underground parking.
- Rezoning to C9 allows for 6 storeys and hotel – the city city proposes to have a covenant placed on title preventing heights in excess of 4 storeys.
- Underground parking will be into the water table and is prohibitively expensive to do on this site regardless of size
- The city is misunderstanding the cost constraints of developing this site in a manner that would be visually appealing
- Doug Gilchrist (Real Estate & Building Services, City of Kelowna) states “From our market sounding and consultation we have learned that parking partially underground (which what we would propose on this site) is quite viable and more sustainable than a tanked parkade.”
- In my opinion, 7 lake front lots of a partial underground parking is visually unappealing and is not conducive to creating a functional public space.
5) More retail on the lake is needed
- Peachland should be used as a model – maintaining public lake frontage and allowing commercial on the other side of the street! Where we can promote a pedestrian friendly experience in South Pandosy and bring Pandosy to the Lake.
- The City of Kelowna is supposed to be committed to becoming greener – make more green space in our designated city centres to draw people down to live in these centres!
- The Kelowna Chamber recognizes the importance of quality of life in our community and park space is a key component for the successful attraction and retention of high quality talent in our community.
- In my opinion, recreational opportunities by the lake is what will drive vitality not an expensive restaurant in an apartment hotel
- Retail approach to vitality is flawed: “Shopping is not a substitute for creativity” – Douglas Coupland.
6) Belief that a developer will make this a beautiful area for the public.
- The cost constraints that a developer will have makes it unlikely that they will deliver the vision the city has in mind. The city has been unable to find a suitable development proposal for the KSS site.
- Maximizing floor area ratio and site coverage will be the only way to make the development financially feasible.
- A large structure so close to the lake will only serve to cutoff the rest of Pandosy to the lake and in my mind will not be beautiful!
- “As more and more of humanity moves to big cities, we lose that direct contact with nature that our ancestors always had.” David Suzuki
- What I believe we need is public green space and activities such as access for kayaks, canoes, and paddle boards, maybe even a community outdoor pool heated with district energy, an outdoor climbing wall, community garden, outdoor stage to have small theatre productions.
7) Some council members believe it has been through the public process – OCP and APC
- Many of our youth does not know what the OCP (Official Community Plan) and we are planning for them.
- A lot of citizens were not involved in the OCP
- During the public consultants of the OCP for this area there were many who did not support a hotel
- The APC (Advisory Planning Commission) did not support the proposal.
Please come out on Tuesday, April 5, 5 p.m., at City Hall to have your voice heard.
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