Tweaks to town centre plans

A plan three years in the making for revitalizing and densifying the town centre of Okanagan Falls will need some tweaks before it’s approved.

The Regional District Okanagan Similkameen’s board voted down the third phase of the town centre master plans on Thursday.

The vision of the plan is "that Okanagan Falls town centre will become a compact, mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly town centre that is oriented towards Skaha Lake and optimizes public access to the waterfront," according to a report given to the RDOS.

That report from Urban Forum Associates, a Vancouver-based company, said there are several factors to indicate there is growth and attraction potential in Okanagan Falls.

Those factors include the town's natural setting on Skaha Lake, the amount of travellers that pass through town on Highway 97, and several undeveloped properties north of the highway.

But the plan was put on ice after concerns were raised by a prominent local landowner about a north-to-south pedestrian walkway from Highway 97 to 8th Avenue.

Robin Agur, the owner of the property where that walkway would be built through, argued against the plan.

The 3.5-acre parcel he owns currently houses a RV Park, but the property is largely undeveloped.

Agur, a longtime Okanagan realtor, said a walkway would jeopardize future development on that land.

"It could be a multi-storey unit that would bring revenue and people to Okanagan Falls," he said. "There’s not a lot of other spots to do this… And to carve it up, just doesn’t make sense to me.”

Eleven board members agreed, and voted down the plan.

One of those in favour, Area D director Tom Siddon, expressed disappointment in the result, as he felt the master plan had general community support. It will be re-worked and will come the board again in 2017.

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