Letter: Tourist Centre would dishonour letter and intent of Simpson Covenant

Tourist Centre retail outlet is…under the roof and within the building envelope that encroaches on these restricted-use lands.

To the editor:

Re: Tourism Centre proposed location on Queensway Jetty.

After meeting with the CEO of Tourism Kelowna and their board chair, I sent the following letter.

I appreciate that your association feels a central pedestrian-friendly site is more appropriate to today’s tourist who has likely already searched out, online, the various activities, accommodations and sites of local interest. You also noted that parking or drive-by traffic is irrelevant in today’s much-changed tourist environment.

We currently have, if you walk quickly, about 10 minutes of open lake view remaining in downtown Kelowna. Otherwise, you are required to park your vehicle and manoeuvre your way around condo towers, lakefront hotels, the depths of City Park, which unfortunately many do not feel comfortable doing.

And on part of that 10-minute lake view, your organization now wishes to build a two-storey office building? Why are you, as tourism promoters, not lobbying to maintain this remnant of Kelowna’s waterfront for everyone’s use?

Tourism resourcing and behaviour have changed dramatically over the past few years. It would be naïve of us all to believe this will not continue to be the case and tourists will have less and less need for a ‘bricks and mortar’ building, though I appreciate your building is mostly glass. Then what happens to this building when it becomes redundant? Tourism marketing, which is to be on the second floor, can be done anywhere. Then what becomes of this important site?

You also pointed out that your plan carefully avoids placing your retail outlet within the boundaries of the Simpson Covenant, which the building itself encroaches on. As you may be aware, the Supreme Court of BC ruled that there was to be no commercial or industrial activity within the boundaries of the Covenant. Whether the site of your retail outlet is on ‘this’ two feet or ‘that’ two feet is irrelevant—it’s under the roof and within the building envelope that does encroach on these restricted-use lands.

I wish you well as you search for a new Tourism Kelowna site; however, needs and wants are two different things—we all own and all want to be able to freely access and use this precious piece of land. If you take it over, then it is lost, forever, to the rest of us.  The Covenant says “for the use and enjoyment of all the citizens of Kelowna.” Tourism Kelowna needs to respect that.

Sharron Simpson, Kelowna