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Dollars given to supporters of Doyle development at Kelowna public hearing

People given $250 for attendance
Conceptual rendering of 25 storey high-rise planned for 350 Doyle Ave. (Zeidler Architecture)

Several people who supported a controversial Kelowna high-rise development were reimbursed expenses to attend a public hearing on the project.

A staff report going to council Monday (Aug. 14) says people were paid $250 each to speak in favour of a 25-storey tower, going up at 350 Doyle Street, at the hearing on July 26, 2022.

READ MORE: Kelowna council approves 25-storey Doyle Avenue tower amid controversy

In October 2022, the city and council-elect started receiving statements that some of the speakers had been paid to speak in favour of the application.

The mayor also received an email in January from one individual confirming that at the request of a friend, he and several others had spoken in favour of the project and “was paid $250 via e-transfer for my comments”.

JDH Naturals was hired by the developer (Appelt Properties) to engage the public on the project, and confirmed speakers were reimbursed for expenses to cover time away from work, travel, parking and meals.

It’s unlikely that each presenter’s expenses reached $250, the report notes.

While it’s unclear how many speakers received payment, approximately half of the 24 individuals who spoke at the public hearing referenced the need for affordable housing and student housing.

The report also says that though council would expect consultants to be compensated for assistance in presenting to council, that expectation does not extend to the public.

“Direct payment to individuals undermines public confidence in the public process, tainting council’s decision.”

Staff recommends that council rescind development permits and lease agreements associated with the project, and invite Appelt Properties to resubmit its application.

The development is no stranger to controversy including accusations of a “bait and switch” by the developer from the Kelowna Legacy Group.

Councillors Charlie Hodge and Mohini Singh were the only votes against the project, while former Coun. Gail Given was not present, at the July 26 public hearing.

READ MORE: Kelowna Legacy Group doubles down on doubling of downtown tower


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Gary Barnes

About the Author: Gary Barnes

Recently joined Kelowna Capital News and WestK News as a multimedia journalist in January 2022. With almost 30 years of experience in news reporting and radio broadcasting...
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