Letters: Out-going council renovating park-zoned home for upscale rental

City owned house rezoned for park use now being renovated to provide city with lucrative rental income.

To the editor:

There are now two vacant and very run down waterfront rental homes at the foot of Cedar Avenue. They are beside one another and next to the existing tiny Meikle Avenue road end beach. If a park is indeed the city’s future plan (they did rezone it to P3 last month), why not start now and have a pretty large beach for next summer?

Is it reasonable to spend $50,000 to renovate each home and then rent them for about $2,500 per month? (On Monday, Nov. 10, a roofing crew arrived at the vacant [city-owned] home at 252 Meikle Avenue to begin renovations. A picture taken on Remembrance Day shows them working through the statutory holiday. It would be helpful to know the city’s plans and budget when there is no apparent money available for demolition and grass.)

After administration and routine maintenance it would take over two years just to recover the renovation costs of the homes they plan to demolish. Would this make any sense at all? If the money for demolition is already in the 2014 city budget (it is), what could it possibly cost after demolition to just plant some grass and leave it like the other unserviced beach fronts that thousands of people enjoy? Even if there are some future grandiose menus on the back burner (that people may or may not want), using the land now for a basic park is giving the people a fantastic new beach at about the same cost as revenue-neutral rentals.

Here is what I think. P3 zoning is used to create parks like Gyro and Rotary. However, the zone can surprisingly also be used for restaurants, retail stores and social clubhouses (the paddle club already has been given their space). These uses fit the zoning rules, which means there is no legal requirement for public input into a decision (you have elected council to make those decisions on your behalf).  The frustration I have is that no one on the current council has stood up to say what they want, claiming they can’t until the money is available. How can you argue something is not affordable if you have no idea what you want in the first place?

This all leads me to wonder (again) what is really cooking (as in restaurant) behind the scenes (instead of across the street where it belongs). Maybe they want to tie up the new parkland for several more years so that people won’t use or fall in love with it. Opening it up for park now would only make it much harder for council to try and build something that was legal but greasy and not widely supported.

Let’s see if anyone on council or the other candidates can help clarify their position. After all, once they are elected, they will have had your vote and legally no longer need your input. Would you like fries with that?

Michael Neill, Kelowna