Photo by Terry Farrell

Letter: Kelowna paving paradise

The private property parkade built in defiance of the Simpson Covenant, on which property it sits

To the editor:

City hall is at a critical time in its evolution and we, the citizens—and our beautiful city—are caught in its lack of foresight and refusal to hear from its constituents.

City hall seems to be committed, in the words of that plaintive song, to “paving paradise,” or if not paving, building on it. It amounts to the same thing: Concrete.

The decision to approve the tourist centre building on the waterfront was a forgone conclusion, which was so apparent at the sham public hearing. The wisdom from the audience wasn’t heard—tourism is changing; a standalone building will become obsolete; the building will block more of the quickly-diminishing lake view; there is abundant space available on Bernard Ave; the site was originally created with fill for the 1940’s ferry dock; that efforts to restore the much-diminished and in this season, much more diminished, shoreline will be thwarted; that onsite parking matters as is evident at the current highway site.”

The only voices heard were the tourist association—self-serving at best, but at worse, wrecking what they purport to be selling—shame on them.

The private property parkade built in defiance of the Simpson Covenant, on which property it sits—a truly ugly concrete box in a location that was specified for the use and enjoyment of the citizens of Kelowna … with no commercial activity.

When the BC Supreme Court ruled that the terms and conditions of use of the civic centre lands, as agreed to by previous city councils, were in fact, still valid and the city could not remove them, the Save the Historic Simpson Covenant Society and their legal counsel, Tom Smithwick, met with city staff to express concern that paid public parking on the civic centre lands did not live up to the spirit and intent, nor in fact, the terms of the original agreement.

City staff disagreed, stating that parking was a municipal purpose. Never, I am certain, was this the intent of the original agreement. And now we have, in an area that could have been green space in an area of unsightly congestion, a multi-storied, very ugly concrete box that will be there for a long, long time. Is there not something ludicrous about using this precious downtown space for the tenants who have just built a fitness centre in their newly opened building?

Does this city council have no vision, no aspirations for what this city could be if they would look beyond their short-term agenda? And then listen to the wisdom of all those the voices who want to speak, before making up their minds.

Then we might have a more hopeful, more optimistic, less confrontational, and less of a drop-in/drop-out community that what we now have developing.

Sharron J. Simpson, Kelowna