Letter: Tourism Kelowna on the proposed Visitor Centre

We want this to be a project all the citizens of Kelowna will be proud of.

To the editor:

We at Tourism Kelowna have been reading with interest the comments about our proposed visitor centre in Kelowna. This is an important project for Kelowna as tourism generates more than $100 million per year in local, provincial and federal taxes, used to fund many programs and facilities Kelowna residents rely on and want in the future.

With the use of GPS, our traffic at the Harvey Avenue location is plunging and today is half of what it was just four years ago. We need to move to where visitors are gathering so that we can help them get the most out of their stay, maximizing the benefit to our community. Here are some important facts about the project:

Who pays?

Tourism Kelowna does, not the City of Kelowna. Tourism Kelowna is responsible for raising or borrowing all $3.5 million required to build the project.

Who owns the land?

At all times the City of Kelowna will retain ownership of the land and lease the land to Tourism Kelowna. The terms of the lease, currently being negotiated, will be very specific and prevent any future expansion.

What will be done to protect views?

The building will be set back from the lake by 15 meters—about 50 feet—on all three waterfront sides. This means open public space will be enhanced from what is there now. Extensive use of glass will create a see-through design.

What about the Sawmill Community Trust Area (Simpson Covenant)?

The Sawmill Community Trust Area (Simpson Covenant) covers 45 per cent of the property, a little under half. We have taken steps to ensure that the covenant will be respected at all times.

What about traffic and RV’s downtown?

The new visitor centre is not designed to attract vehicles of any kind. There is no parking on-site for visitors, staff or volunteers. There is no temporary stopping area. Just like 78 per cent of other North American destinations similar to Kelowna, our visitor centre will be designed for visitors who are already downtown and exploring on foot. We are simply moving to where the people are in order to influence them to see and do more during their stay. As for RVs, just 240 RVs currently stop by our Harvey Avenue location every year; that’s one or two per day during the RV season. We will work with the RV industry to accommodate those visitors at another location.

We look forward to presenting our complete plan to the citizens of Kelowna and city council. We want this to be a project all the citizens of Kelowna will be proud of. Find out more about the project www.tourismkelowna.com/newvisitorcentre/.

Daniel Bibby,

chair, Tourism Kelowna