Plan For Covenant Land

Saying it's not about circumventing a potential lawsuit, Kelowna Mayor Sharon Shepherd outlined an Action Plan Tuesday with regards to lands inside the controversial Simpson Covenant.

At an informal press briefing in Council Chambers, Shepherd outlined the City's four-point plan and reaffirmed its decision to remove the covenant.

On April 30, City Council voted unanimously to remove the 60-year-old Simpson Covenant from the 11 acre parcel of land which borders the lake on the West, Ellis St. on the East, Doyle Ave. on the North and Queensway on the South.

"The covenant that is on the land is the responsibility of a Yukon based company that is not interested in the enforcement of it. Since council is committed to the spirit and intent of the covenant and wish to strengthen what this council realizes as the vision of previous councils, our council is here to announce a four-point Action Plan," says Shepherd.

Council's plan is as follows:
  • Stuart Park Lands Using Section 30 of the Community Charter, Shepherd says the City will bring forth a by-law on May 28, dedicating Stuart Park land as park. "This dedication means future council's could only remove the dedication with the formal approval of the citizens of Kelowna."

  • Civic Centre Block Zone Shepherd says the City Hall block of covenant lands, which includes City Hall, Memorial Arena, the Museum and Kasugai Gardens, will have its own unique zone. "This zone will be created to ensure that civic use will always be the primary use of these lands."

  • Civic Ownership Shepherd says a formal council policy will be brought forward May 28, confirming that Stuart Park and the Civic Block lands will not be sold. "Council has already passed a resolution to this affect, however a formal policy is much stronger and ensures future generations will understand the thoughts and wishes of this council.

  • Kelowna Yacht Club "Council recognizes the Kelowna Yacht Club is an integral part of the downtown waterfront and a valuable amenity to the community." Shepherd says City staff will ensure appropriate zoning for the future site of the Yacht Club building, anticipated to be just north of the current building, is in place.

Shepherd says the plan strengthens the decisions made two weeks ago by Council when it voted to scrap the 60-year-old Simpson Covenant.

In regards to the Civic Block property, Shepherd says the final details of the how the new zone will work still has to be worked out.

"Civic use will be the primary use on that block. There will probably be secondary uses allowed, however, that will all be spelled out in the zoning."

She says the zoning change will go through a public process, meaning the public will have input into what can and can't happen with the civic land.

Sharron Simpson's lawyer, Tom Smithwick, who has started legal action on behalf of Simpson to stop the City from removing the covenant from the land, was in attendance Tuesday.

Smithwick says Simpson is out of town, and while he can't speak for his client, he doesn't believe anything he heard Tuesday will stop the court challenge from going ahead.

"This announcement doesn't change the reason for challenge. The objection of the Simpson family is the removal of the covenant at all, and there's no reason to do it, whether you say it holds legal water or not," says Smithwick.

He says, subject to seeing what the new Civic Centre Zone says, he has no objection to what the City is trying to do. His only question is why?

"All of the things that they said in the press conference still leaves us begging the question why are you taking the covenant, or, more to the point, trying to take the covenant off the land? We suggest there is no reason to remove the historical reality of the covenant, so why not leave it on there, because it doesn't prevent you from doing any of the things you were talking about in your four part plan."

Shepherd says the Advisory Planning Commission is scheduled to look at the Stuart Park zoning May 22. A timeline for finalizing the design of Stuart Park will come before council May 28.

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