Letter: No to obtrusive Tourism Kelowna building on waterfront

Vancouver, Toronto and Seattle all rent (tourist info centres) in pedestrian popular locations, in considerably less than 5,000 sq. ft.

To the editor:

Tourism Kelowna seems blind to the real attractions of downtown Kelowna. After having initially proposed to carve out a chunk of city park for their centre they now insist on an obtrusive lakeside building when rental space is available in the historical Paramount building, steps from the lake and with high pedestrian traffic, where they would both benefit from and provide benefit to local businesses.

Tourism Kelowna tries to justify their need to move from the highway to prime lakefront property by comparing their business to other cities. I would like to be specific about those other centres.

According to Tourism Kelowna, Victoria tourist office gets 330,000 visits. Victoria, however hosts one or two per day sailings year-round from Port Angeles, Wa.; daily sailings from Seattle; over 300 cruise ships each year and  the tourists from the many daily sailings of B.C. ferries, most eagerly heading for the beautiful inner harbour, where their information needs are met in Tourism Victoria’s 1,500 sq.-ft. location in 100 year-old rented premises.

Cities like Vancouver, Toronto and Seattle all rent in pedestrian popular locations, in considerably less than 5,000 sq. ft. (Vancouver’s is 2,000 sq. ft.).

I find it interesting that the Portland, Oregon tourism model was mentioned to support the lakefront move. Not only is their tourist bureau in rented premises about five blocks from the river, but their waterfront is exactly as ours ought to be. Portland has a walking/cycling path right on the river, then about a 50 yard-wide lengthy park that runs parallel to the street, grassed and treed with benches, everything to make the locals and tourists comfortable.

This proposal would not be on the table without the encouragement of city council, who seem to feel that we will be satisfied with any structure on the lake, as long as we have a concrete strip to walk along. One councillor even said the new building would provide needed public toilets, only two years after the city built an $800,000 toilet block three to four minutes walk away.

Finally I don’t understand the business decision of spending $3.5 million of  hotel room tax dollars and member fees, earmarked for promoting Kelowna, on bricks and mortar (or wood and glass) when other cities clearly choose the rent and heavy promotion option.

Don Henderson, Kelowna