Waters: Downtown Kelowna back in the spotlight

With ongoing work and proposed projects slated for downtown, an area once seen as neglected by the city is back in the limelight.

For years critics complained about a lack of attention focused on downtown Kelowna.

Well, that can’t be said now. Downtown development has grabbed the local spotlight of late, with at least three projects—one underway and two proposed—at the forefront of city plans. But, as is usual when it comes to development in this city, finding consensus on any project appears virtually impossible.

Arguments over how the city should dig up its main downtown street—Bernard Avenue—raged prior to that project getting underway last month, and now that it is underway, many merchants are justifiably concerned about their businesses surviving to see completion of the project in the spring of 2014.

While everyone seems to agree it’s needed, now that the work is underway there’s still substantial disagreement about how it should proceed. At which end of the road should the work have started? How long should it take? Should the city have paid more to work through the winter to speed up completion?

And now new, project-related questions have popped up. Like, are the faces used in city advertisements on the worksite fences really representative of the local population? And, is the city doing enough to let the public know businesses are open to foot traffic during the construction?

But while Bernard Avenue is the most visible construction project in the city, it is not the only downtown project garnering attention.

The plan to build a new, multi-storey parkade beside Memorial Arena for a proposed new office building to house Interior Health workers across the street has also gained its fair share of attention lately.

While the office tower has largely been welcomed because of the estimated 1,000 new workers it will bring into the downtown core, some feel it is slated for the wrong place at the corner of Doyle Avenue and St. Paul Street. But that’s where the city has land to sell. And the proceeds from that sale will help pay for the new parkade.

The city says the parkade is critical to the office tower going ahead and will help provide more parking for everyone downtown. But critics complain it is slated for land covered by the Kelowna Sawmill Community Trust—referred to by some as the Simpson Covenant—and as such should not be used. They say it encourages cars at a time when the city is trying to discourage car use. But the proposal calls construction of a parkade on what is now a parking lot.

The argument has been made in recent years that the real commercial

centre of the city is now the area around Orchard Park Shopping Centre, not downtown. But given the interest in downtown development, it appears downtown is still alive and well.

Alistair Waters is the assistant editor of the Capital News.



Just Posted

Kelowna, Lake Country boarders hit B.C. Games podium

At the Kamloops BC Games, Big White boarders Central Okanagan boarders win medals

Gold for Apex Freestyle Club skier at B.C. Games

Kelowna’s Jordan MacDonald wins gold in Kamloops at the B.C. Winter Games

Feature Friday: Life in the sex trade

A view into the life from one Kelowna prostitute and the issues it can cause for women

Future Olympians sought in Kelowna

RBC Training Ground event evaluates 100 young local athletes

Victory lap to honour Serwa

Big White Ski Resort did a victory lap to honour the skier who won gold in the Olympics

What’s happening

Check out what is happening this weekend in the Okanagan-Shuswap.

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Rockets fend off pesky T-birds

Kelowna and Seattle go back and forth in an entertaining WHL affair

Canucks fold 5-3 in first ever trip to Vegas

Daniel Sedin had two points as Canucks fall to the Golden Knights Friday night

That’s a wrap: B.C. Games results after Day 1

Vancouver-Coastal Zone 5 is in the lead for medals Friday at the Kamloops 2018 B.C. Winter Games

Familiar faces head up library board

The executive of the Okanagan Regional Library board remains the same

Sticking the landing at the B.C. Games

Gymnasts talk competition, B.C. Winter Games, and teamwork in Kamloops

Therapy dogs make appearance at B.C. Games

The St. John’s Ambulance therapy dog program launches a pilot project at the 2018 Kamloops B.C. Winter Games

$153M in federal cash to fund child care, education training in B.C.

Bilateral agreement will create 1,370 new infant and toddler spaces

Most Read