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Letters  

Unhappy with city leaders

Add my name, as well as every family member of mine, to the growing list of people calling for new leaders in the ever-declining mid-sized City of Kelowna.

I personally never believed so much of this city's densification would come to fruition, simply due to the most obvious infrastructure challenges and the lack of staffing of emergency personnel.

It was astonishing to see people bring this shortsightedness (up) time and time again at public hearings and in letters to the mayor and councillors, just to see their concerns quickly dismissed, mostly with a touch of arrogance and the odd snicker by community leaders (eg. at the public hearing for the UBC tower).

During the public hearing on the UBC downtown building, we also had the head of city planning defend the extreme lack of firefighting personnel needed to fight a fire in a skyscraper, saying they are not needed for skyscrapers because those buildings don't burn like fire used to burn years ago.

We had a complete stranger to emergency work publicly say fire has now decided it will burn differently, even though the exact opposite is true with the massive influx of plastic in our furnishings. (Despite that) the mayor and city councillors continue to put the director of planning on the pedestal.

Another example of apparent tom foolery by the city is the day after the Kelowna’s planning director pleaded for more employees due to the intense (department) workload, Kelowna's most prominent developer put out a news release stating the market has declined so much it will likely scale back new projects due to a lack of investment interest.

Are we still adding those positions even with the conflicting analyses on the current market conditions?

The residents of Rutland lobbied the mayor, councillors and (provincial) ministers in order to get information about why Rutland is taking on (many) of the assisted housing projects. No one has any answers (even after a petition of 14,000 signatures fell silent on city planning staff), other than saying the province decides where to put these properties without consultation with the city. (If you) dare say anything you get instantly labeled as NIMBY, which instantly takes your voice and credibility away.

I could go on and on about why this leadership lacks anything other than high density construction ( ie. the social assistance office in the heart of Rutland) but I know I will lose readers to what I feel is an extremely important message in hopes of creating a movement—one that brings change, fairness, values and family back to our city, in contrast to the current concrete, wealth, taxes and individuality that rules over City Hall.

Let's do something that has never been done before, force change on those who have already forced change on our city.

Steve Brandel



231738


Bought STR, followed rules

I am writing on behalf of my family, who has owned a legal, licensed and zoned short-term rental in downtown Kelowna since 2021.

We purchased our unit after staying in one during a renovation we did on our home. We loved the area and thought it would be a great investment for our family.

Over the years we have rented it out to many families like our own, during the summer months, to students in the winter, to Ukrainian refugees and currently to an owner from Waterscapes who was displaced due to flooding.

The provincial government recently denied the short-term rental exemption the City of Kelowna sought for properties that were previously zoned as short-term rentals. It is very convenient to have guaranteed government pensions and dictate to hard-working individuals, who do not have such financial protections, about how they should live their lives and plan for their retirements.

They singled out and blamed individuals, such as myself and my husband, for the housing crisis, rather than acknowledging the issue is multi-faceted and predominantly driven by decades of failed government policy.

It is typical of government to cast blame at anyone except itself, all in the name of the sacred vote. If it grants this exemption, it can still play the role of the good “person,” addressing the housing problem while simultaneously supporting small business.

We did not create population growth, demand outstripping supply and rules and regulations discouraging developers from building rental properties. We did not cause government failures on building rental units, establish rent control zones or subsidize rents or other projects. We did not create low-interest rate environments or decades of price increases in the residential housing market in major centres across Canada that would invariably spill over to other communities.

We have followed all the rules, done absolutely nothing wrong and specifically purchased a property zoned for short-term rentals that was previously used for that specific purpose for many years, well before long-term rental costs were ever discussed as an issue. We did not buy these properties and remove them from the long-term rental market, they have always been zoned for short term rentals, nor were we speculating on properties, rather, we intentionally bought properties that were approved by the government for the specific purpose in question as we were cognizant of the rules and wanted to ensure our investments would be insulated from potential new restrictions, but here we are anyways.

The City of Kelowna needs to push the provincial government harder for their municipal rights. Organizations in Kelowna and the Okanagan (Tourism Kelowna, Chamber of Commerce, Restaurant Industry) need to also push harder for these exemptions to be allowed. The tourism industry won’t survive without them.

The Property Rights Association has been pushing hard to bring these groups and individuals together to advocate for our rights and I encourage anyone reading this to learn more at propertyrightsbc.org,

Charly Leach



Writer commended for letter

Re. Amanda Wlson's letter Change room woman writes (Castanet, Feb. 15)

Ms. Wilson wrote some extremely brave words in her letter.

That she felt the need to explain herself publicly shows just how much prejudice exists in our community, and it makes me very disappointed.

Instead of hiding from public shaming, which I believe most people in that position would do, she wrote a letter toinform us, at her own expense. This is commendable and should not be asked of anyone.

Spencer Lupul



231113


Wants to see everyone sued

Re. Child dies in foster care (Castanet, March 1)

This event was so preventable and disappointing.

The Children and Families minister should be extremely disappointed in her staff and the local government should be included on (any) future lawsuit for failing to ensure every body of water on private property has a fence around it with a locked gate.

Its fence bylaw says: "swimming pool" means an artificial structure that is capable of being filled with water to a depth of 46 cm or more and is located outdoors for the purpose of being used for swimming, bathing or wading a person that owns or controls a swimming pool must enclose it in a fence that completely surrounds the swimming pool (and maintain it) and is constructed of any material and design that can reasonably be expected to prevent children from gaining access to the swimming pool.”

(I say) sue the city building inspector, sue the ministry, sue the foster parent(s). It is the only way to ensure this never happens to anyone again.

If the wording in the bylaw needs to be changed to include bodies of water that aren't made for swimming, then that is a change that should be addressed and maybe the City of Kelowna should have a look at (it’s bylaw) too, so nothing similar happens here.

I know we have ponds, swamps and rivers around here, especially in the Mission (area). Is there sufficient signage to remind parents children aren't to be trusted around water?

People aren't getting any smarter. We don't want an incident to happen and some thoughtless parent to say they didn't even think that this could happen to them.

Will a sign help? I am not sure. We can't fence off (Okanagan)lake but we can remind people how fragile life is.

On (a related) note, can everyone tone down the speeding a little bit, especially in areas where kids and pets frequent? It is getting a little out of hand.

It only takes a moment of mindlessness for a child, or even an adult for that matter, to walk into the path of a vehicle. Something like that is not likely on Harvey Avenue (Highway 97) but in a residential area you should never drive faster than you can react and stop. That is common sense, which is less common and more like a super power now.

Troy Gangl



Concerned with city growth

Re: Peter Emery's letter Against high-rises downtown (Castanet, Feb 21)

Peter Emery concluded his Feb. 21 letter: "I find myself questioning who runs this city. Is it the developers, the planning department or our elected officials?"

When it comes to discussing Kelowna municipal politics, Mr. Emery asked the key question. I think we should change the name “Kelowna city council” to "Kelowna city planners and developers council".

If everything in Kelowna's 2040 Official Community Plan can be modified or changed to suit the wishes of developers when city planners recommend rezoning or a new variance (land use exception) to council, then how is it really a plan at all?

On Feb. 15, Mayor Tom Dyas gave his State of the City address at a Kelowna Chamber of Commerce luncheon. He said, in part: “We have a plan and a vision for growth.... We are making these investments because we believe they are essential to the future of our city and for your business."

Dyas also told the sold-out crowd: "We have a great opportunity and responsibility to make growth sustainable."

How does he define "sustainable growth" or "sustainable development"?

The most frequently quoted definition of sustainable development is from Our Common Future, also known as the Brundtland Report: "Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

According to the city's website, Kelowna's population is expected to grow by more than 45,000 taxpayers by 2040. How will increasing demand for water connectivity to new housing be sustainable? Perhaps Dyas could explain the specifics in his next Castanet one-on-one interview.

Lauded economist Herman Daly, emeritus professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy, has developed arguments in favour of a steady-state economy, which recognizes the physical limitations of our planet and seeks a sustainable economic and ecological equilibrium.

Daly defines his concept of a steady-state economy as an economic system made up of a constant stock of physical wealth (capital) and a constant stock of people (population), with both stocks maintained by a flow of natural resources through the system. The term usually refers to the economy of a country, but it can also apply to the economic system of a city, a region, or the entire world.

In 2022, Daly told The New York Times: "Growth is an idol of our present system....Every politician is in favour of growth, and no one speaks against growth or in favor of steady state or levelling off. But I think it’s an elementary question to ask—does growth ever become uneconomic?” (Read: "This Pioneering Economist Says Our Obsession With Growth Must End", New York Times, July 17, 2022)

Also in 2022, Canadian actor and singer-songwriter Noah Reid released his third album, Adjustments. The sixth track is titled "Another F- Condo". What follows is my rewrite of Reid's lyrics for these times:

Another Mega Tower

Another mega tower goin' up
Another glass and concrete sign for all those who are movin' up
And there's another giant hole dug in the ground
I see the cracks in what's left of K-Town

And there's another heritage building comin' down
Another piece of history is gone without a sound
And it's another jewel stolen from the crown
Who's hackin' down the trees of K-Town?

I pledge allegiance to this city I was born in
That's the one bein' rezoned, infilled, and condoed every mornin'
Bloated budget for a new Rec Centre
Odds are in their favour

For the "Official Community Continuously Changing Plan"

Another zoning bylaw just got passed
Another group of heat islands will be such a hot hot blast
Another sign they just want the tourists around
The tower cranes are invading K-Town

David Buckna, Kelowna



Wants taller buildings

Most of the new proposed apartment and condo buildings in Kelowna are only six floors (high).

Why? Assuming bylaws and zoning, why not eight or 10 floors, or more? I doubt it’s due to airplanes. It should be changed, especially in this day and age with a housing crisis.

Also, if people are somewhat content in tents nd campers, why doesn't the city approve campsite areas within the city? There are several RV parks in West Kelowna in the Grizzly Road area (on Westbank First Nation land) that are nice. So can be done.

The tiny house sites (in Kelowna) are a start but not your nice tiny homes that you see on HGTV.

The City of Kelowna doesn't do enough. I don't think it puts in the effort.

Also, enough with the whining about new shot-term rentals rules. Why should it effect tourists? There are these things called hotels.

I wonder what the hotel industry thinks of her new rules. I would think it is in favour. How did city and tourism ever survive before short-term rentals?

Doug Lyle



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