Letter: City goes own way on Waterfront Park

The city had the budget for an open house, but not to begin the first step toward a public park—the demolition of the remaining houses.

To the editor:

The adage “You can’t fight city hall” springs to mind when one thinks about Kelowna’s smoke and feathers behaviour with respect to the waterfront properties along Abbott, Walnut and Meikle streets.

The next installment of the park’s progress will be before a public hearing, set for 6 p.m. Oct. 7.  The properties are third on the agenda, the order of priority being decided on the number of the bylaw, and not the importance of the properties to the public.

The lakefront lots have attracted public attention for many years, starting some time around 1989 when the idea of a future park was conceived.  In 2011, a large rally, dubbed People for the Park, failed to inspire councillors to rezone the properties to P3 – Major Park and Open Spaces.

An email from a mystery donor offering $2 million to help develop the park, gave council an 11th hour reprieve from voting on the issue.

Smoke and feathers—the mystery donor vaporized.

This winter, the city invited “stakeholders” to participate in a charette to come up with ideas for the new park.  The recommendations of the charette were displayed at an open house later this past winter. On Monday, Sept. 29, council gave the Kelowna Paddle Centre a five-year lease for three of the lots, ignoring the recommendation of the charette, which placed the paddlers at the southern end of the properties.

What was the purpose of the charette this year if nothing is to be done to give the public the long-awaited lakefront park?  Will another “stakeholder” like the paddle club be given a long-term lease for a boutique hotel or a restaurant, without a public hearing, like the paddlers?

The city had the budget for an open house, but cannot now find the money to begin the first step toward a public park—the demolition of the remaining houses.  If the rental houses were removed, people walking, cycling or driving by the properties would at least have a glimpse of their future park.

As a child, I used to enjoy charades; it was a harmless, fun game which deceived no one.

 

Helen Schiele, Kelowna