To the editor:
The Oct. 18 public hearing on proposed Kelowna bylaw 10568 and 10594 should be reopened because city staff failed to provide proper notice on the real purpose of the bylaws.
The published notice is vague and states the purpose was to amend the Official Community Plan and zoning bylaws in relation to the Downtown Plan charrette recommendations.
The actual Downtown Plan charrette recommendations include:
• Increasing building heights from 12 to 26 storeys.
• Providing developers with height and density variances in exchange for public amenities.
• Providing land swaps to enable block consolidations.
• Restricting growth outside downtown.
• Providing public incentives to developers to enable downtown development.
• Increasing public subsidies to developers for new roads, parks, water and sewer services.
The actual bylaw amendments permit downtown highrises adjacent to the lake, increased building heights in all areas of the city and enable the city to enter into long-term public spending agreements that benefit downtown businesses and property owners.
Economic, environmental or engineering feasibility studies to support the amendments have not been made public.
Long-term public costs and benefits of the bylaw amendments have also not been identified, assessed and justified to show they will benefit the entire community.
The B.C. courts have long recognized that it is essential for citizens to be informed of the intent of city bylaws. Judgements have upheld the belief that the purpose of a public hearing notice is intended to enable concerned residents to reach a conclusion as to whether to seek further details on the bylaws and present their concerns to council at the public hearing.
Case law supports the argument that a notice is required to set out the intent of the bylaw in general terms to enable residents to be informed within reason as to the extent, if any, to which the bylaw might affect them.
This is a major failure in the public process.
Taxpayers and ratepayers were not informed of the intent of the bylaws and their long-term economic impacts.