A controversial plan to densify an urban Kelowna neighbourhood over the next two decades was approved by council Monday, though it wasn’t without some debate.
The Capri-Landmark Urban Centre Plan, which was put on hold after concerns were raised last September, is intended to transform an area with many older single-family homes into an urban centre with higher-density housing and a better transportation network, say city staff.
Couns. Luke Stack, Charlie Hodge and Maxine DeHart opposed it, citing concerns over small businesses and the Sutherland Road realignment.
Mayor Colin Basran and Couns. Brad Sieben, Gail Given, Ryan Donn and Loyal Wooldridge, however, voted in support.
As Basran pointed out, any effort to accommodate some 8,000 people, which is the aim of this plan, is going to create debate and call for tough decisions.
It’s not like the city can “close the gates” to a wave of new residents, he said.
“I wouldn’t want staff to cut more from a park and road connectivity perspective,” said Basran, noting that’s the biggest impediment thus far.
“If we are going to put 8,000 residents into a green field development at the edge of the community it would cost more. This (makes sense)…no matter where we put 8,000 residents it’s going to cause need for new amenities…It’s the best path forward for our community as a whole.”
Sieben gave his support but raised concerns about some of the finer details.
He said the plan offered some assurances about how the city will work with area landowners and offer them security. His concern was that the city was being a little prescriptive.
“I personally still don’t believe that acquiring a three acre park in this area makes sense, but there will be budget items to support this going forward,” he said.
“I know it’s high level, but…I don’t think there is a better option.”
The area covered by the plan is bordered by Harvey Avenue (Highway 97) to the north, Sutherland Avenue to the south, Spall Road to the east and Gordon Drive to the west. It includes both the Landmark business area and the Capri Centre.
The recently endorsed OCP growth scenario sets the target of focusing 48 per cent of future growth in Kelowna’s urban centres, reinforcing the significant amount of redevelopment and change anticipated within the five urban centres.
More specifically, Capri-Landmark is expected to add 8,000 new residents over the next 20 years as older service commercial buildings and other properties are redeveloped to mixed-use residential apartments.
The plan is more detailed than most of its kind, said Kelowna city manager Doug Gilchrist, and as such will likely morph over the course of time.
Some of its current highlights include:Protecting and maintaining affordable housing at the west end near the Capri Centre
Expanding Pacific Park and Mary-Ann Collinson Memorial Park
Developing a plaza at the Landmark Centre complex
Developing the existing Dickson Avenue into “Dickson Main Street” and building the Dayton Promenade linking Harvey Avenue and Dickson Avenue
Encouraging high-density residential and commercial development near the Landmark towers
Retaining and increasing commercial property along parts of Spall and Sutherland
Creating Ritchie Park alongside the extension of Sutherland
Daylighting Ritchie Brook and building the Mill Creek corridor through the area
Building sidewalks and protecting cycling routes
Extending Pacific Court north from Sutherland
The planning department says at least two-thirds of the cost for key future infrastructure improvements in the area will be borne by development, while ensuring the area remains affordable for development compared to other suburban locations in the city.
The city estimates the plan will cost $91.5 million over 20 years, with $37.5 million of that being land costs. The remaining $54 million would be project costs.
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