To the editor:
Sadly, the Home Building Centre at Bylands and Bartley roads in West Kelowna has closed down.
This property could sit vacant for years and years, becoming a local eyesore and a target for vandals.
In the local retail economic climate, it will be very difficult to find another business tenant and so the tax loss caused by the continued vacancy of this building will be considerable.
On the other hand, I do have another thought.
The Home Building Centre sits in an excellent location, and is on land within the District of West Kelowna. It has a large yard out the back and plenty of parking. It is closer to the geographic centre of West Kelowna, allowing fair access to all areas of the municipality. It is on a side road but has immediate and direct access to Highway 97. There are many businesses nearby, but it is not on an area with traffic congestion problems.
Would it be possible to repurpose this building? Could it save the taxpayers having to spend enormous amounts on building a brand new town hall?
Or, is it just easier to buy up houses and knock them down to build a monumental town hall?
Perhaps it’s more fitting to shoehorn a building into a limited space and than moan about the lack of easy access and limited parking for years to come.
With the unavoidable divided highway running through downtown Westbank, it seems that a new civic building in any of that area will face intolerable traffic congestion. Even today, driving to a location on Main Street is difficult to negotiate due to the volume of traffic that is bottlenecked from McDonalds at Gellatly through to Paynters Market.
I do not know the answers, but possibly re-purposing might just be the solution to our dilemma.
Even if building a brand new town hall were necessary, this location would be an excellent one.
I invite staff and council of West Kelowna to look into the amazing opportunity that the vacating of this building offers us.