Letter: Don’t ignore civic heart of West Kelowna

The goal is to re-establish the Westbank Centre as the social, cultural and civic heart of the community.

To the editor:

Re: Market sounding for new municipal offices/civic centre in West Kelowna.

The Historic Westbank Association is in agreement with the Westbank Centre Revitalization Plan.

As stated in the revitalization plan, “The goal is to re-establish the Westbank Centre as the social, cultural and civic heart of the community.”

This area, along with the growth of the businesses on WFN land which is adjacent to the Westbank Centre, is the business area of the District of West Kelowna.

Westbank is celebrating its 110th anniversary as the civic heart of this area.

As many of the planners hired by the district have stated, the vistas as one comes down The Connector and into Westbank are spectacular.

There are lake views from almost every street. It is no wonder that our pioneers decided to establish the town of Westbank in this particular area.

It is our understanding that a new multipurpose civic centre will be developed either in Westbank Centre or Boucherie Centre.

The clear goal in the Revitalization Plan is to establish Westbank as the civic heart of the community. One of the key actions in this plan “is to establish a civic centre within the Westbank Centre.”

With all of the studies that have been paid for with our tax dollars, why is there even a question as to where the municipal/civic centre should be built?

According to this study and plan, it is very clear that Westbank is the logical choice.

Westbank has been established for 110 years as a business centre with the Westbank Lions Community Hall, several malls, many doctors and dentists offices, many churches, the Westbank Museum, the Johnson-Bentley Memorial Aquatic Centre, Memorial Park, the Seniors Centre, the Westbank Legion, Okanagan Regional Library, Tourist Information and spectacular lake vistas.

Within walking distance of the town centre is Gellatly Bay, which is in the process of major upgrades.

Parks and recreation areas within this area include Pebble Beach, The Cove, Marina Park, West Kelowna Yacht Club, Rotary Trails Park, Powers Point, Willow Beach, Kent Park, Gellatly Bay Walkway, the CN Wharf, the Dog Beach, Rotary Beach and the WFN public beach.

There is a trail connection from Westbank Centre to Lake Okanagan and a proposed trail connection to Glen Canyon Regional Park.

Westbank Centre has many apartments, condos, senior housing and family units within the downtown core.

There are plans for four to six storey multi-family buildings and potentially highrise developments if the real estate market supports them.

Land has been purchased to build a much needed hospital in the heart of the Westbank community. All of this adds to the viability of a civic centre being established in the Westbank Centre.

The term Boucherie Centre is a new name that has been given to the area around Mt. Boucherie Secondary School and the municipal offices.

Situated in the shadow of Mt Boucherie, for the most part of the winter months it has absolutely no vistas from anywhere in that particular area and is an industrial area with very few restaurants, coffee shops, grocery stores, etc.

It does not have a social, cultural or civic heart. The beach access and parks are several miles away.

One area that has come to our attention as a possible site for the civic centre is George Pringle Elementary School and the area where Westbank elementary school was situated before it was demolished several years ago.

At the present time, the Westbank elementary school land is leased by the district, currently used as a dog park and community gardens with a water park situated nearby.

Regarding the George Pringle area option:

• Is a historic site

• Has incredible vistas

• Is situated in the heart of the Westbank Centre

• Has lots of space for parking

• Has lots of land base to accommodate a growing community

• The new public transit area is within walking distance.

As taxpayers, we are paying for the schools in this area through our municipal taxes.

At present, there are many schools that are not at capacity and some that are at overcapacity.

Chief Tomat Elementary has 207 students and there are other schools with low enrolment.

George Pringle Elementary accommodates 196 regular students and 241 French immersion students.

The 17 acres that the Webber Road Elementary is situated on is leased to the district as a boys’ and girls’ club. It could be restored as an elementary school or French immersion school.

A new school is being built in the Rose Valley area and will be ready by September of 2014.

Our mayor and council have made the decision that the civic heart of the District of West Kelowna will be the Westbank Centre.

The studies have shown Westbank to be the ideal place to build our civic centre.

It’s time to establish our civic centre in the civic heart of our community, as every other community throughout B.C. has had the common sense to do.

Gordon Ficke,

president, Historic Westbank Association

Sheila Kennedy,

business director, Historic Westbank Association