Parkade sparks covenant debate
Aug 31, 2012 / 6:00 am
The City of Kelowna feels it has every right to construct a parkade adjacent to Memorial Arena -- Sharron Simpson doesn't see it that way.
The new parkade and extension of the Library Parkade are part of a large Interior Health building on land bordering Ellis, Doyle and St. Paul streets.
The new parkade land, between the arena and the Kelowna Museum, is situated on lands protected by the Simpson Covenant.
The covenant encompasses lands from Okanagan Lake to Ellis Street and Doyle Avenue to Queensway. It includes Stuart Park, Kelowna Yacht Club, City Hall, Memorial Arena, the Kelowna Museum and Kasugai Gardens.
Those lands, which once were home to Kelowna Sawmill, were donated to the city by Stanley Simpson in 1945.
In a sometimes nasty fight between City Hall and Simpson, the BC Supreme Court upheld the covenant saying the land is subject of 'an historic document preventing the lands from being used for commercial purposes'.
In a letter sent to all of council and the media, Simpson is challenging construction of a parkade as a commercial enterprise.
"Council's decision also doesn't make sense in light of the recent Supreme Court decision ordering the city to disallow commercial use on the Covenant lands as well as council's own decision a year ago to not allow the minor commercial use of the sale of hot chocolate beside the Stuart Park skating rink," says Simpson in her letter.
"The parking structure with rented spaces is a commercial use."
City Hall doesn't see it that way.
"We put forward a project that we feel is for everyone in the community. We didn't anticipate that there would be someone who felt there was some negativity around it," says Real Estate & Building Services Manager, Doug Gilchrist.
"However, prior to any discussions with Interior Health we did confirm with our legal council that we are compliant with the intended uses identified in the Supreme Court decision. We think we're fine."
Gilchrist says the city intends to move ahead as planned.
In order to be in compliance with the Supreme Court decision, Gilchrist says the city will not be adding street level commercial space such as is the case with both the Chapman and Library parkades.
While Simpson's letter does not state emphatically the parkade will be the subject of a legal challenge, she does wonder why council would take an area of the downtown core that belongs to the whole community through a registered covenant and build on it to benefit a few.
"It would be refreshing to have a council that had a vision and commitment to the Simpson Covenant lands, acknowledge those lands as the remarkable asset they are and ensure their highest and best use for all citizens, for all time," Simpson goes on to say.
She suggests removing the current surface parking lot and creating a welcoming green space would provide a 'remarkable, inviting core to our downtown and to the future vitality and health of our community.'
"Please respect the Simpson Covenant and the court order which confirmed its terms and the trust that binds council in perpetuity."
Email us email@example.com