A controversial plan to realign Sutherland Avenue is still the best option to improve transportation in the Capri-Landmark area, say a City of Kelowna staff report headed to council today.
The effort needed to retrofit a transportation network and add new public spaces in an already built-up urban area are considerable and the corresponding impacts can be challenging, but staff say these changes are vital to support the long-term growth of the urban centre .
More than 8,000 people are expected to move into the area, already a major employment hub with the Landmark business centre, by 2040. To support the growth, planners recommend a wide range of transportation, park and utility upgrades costing more than $90 million.
“The realignment of Sutherland Avenue brings both transit service and an active transportation corridor to the heart of the Landmark district and improves the safety and desirability of transit, cycling and walking,” the report reads.
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While the proposed redevelopment of the Capri Centre had council’s endorsement, the extension of the plan to include a renewed urban centre that would complement the expanding Landmark Towers development was met with resistance.
That resistance was led by three commercial building landlords—Sapphire Construction, Tom McNamara and Lambert & Paul Construction—who took up issue with their existing commercial properties within the urban zone—housing more than 50 businesses and some 500 employees—being appropriated under the proposal.
The main culprits were the proposed expansion of Sutherland Avenue and the reconfigeration of parkland zoning.
The three took their case directly to city hall, and ultimately council voted to defer the proposal, setting aside a process that Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran had championed as an example of model future planning for anticipated city growth while acknowledging the negative impacts on some long-time commercial property owners.
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Coun. Luke Stack said ultimately he felt the Sutherland Avenue extension was not well thought out and doubted it would ever be built, the road extension also being an issue of concern voiced by many of his fellow councillors.
Coun. Gail Given was the lone councillor to defend Basran’s vision, calling the Landmark urban zone proposal as filling “a hole in the middle of our community plan that has huge potential to be a phenomenal live-work-play neighbourhood.”
Last fall, council deferred adoption of the long-range Capri-Landmark plan, asking staff to consider alternatives to the Sutherland Avenue realignment.
After having reviewed other options, such as realigning Dickson Avenue instead and upgrading and extending Ritchie Avenue, staff remain convinced the best transportation plan is to realign Sutherland.
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