Grander vision is lacking

As a citizen of Kelowna for the past 14 years and a regular attendee of Kelowna Community Theatre, I am extremely disappointed to read that the land previously occupied by the RCMP detachment on Doyle Avenue is to be leased for commercial development.

This land is the last piece of city-owned land in central Kelowna.

There is no mention in the RFP of what is to be done with the adjacent Kelowna Community Theatre. It was built in 1962 (1962 population 15,000; now over 130,000) and is now is in desperate need of renewal to meet the ambitions of this city as a destination for smart young entrepreneurs, innovative businesses and visitors.

It seems the city has no vision or foresight to create a significant piece of civic architecture in this prime location for use by the citizens of Kelowna. We have a world-class university, a world-class hospital and a third-rate theatre with inadequate facilities for our sophisticated, growing city. 

The 80-year lease indicated on the RFP “High Density Downtown Development Site” will open the land for commercial development, which effectively means that this land is lost to the public forever. 

There are such interesting models the city could consider to keep the land in the public domain. Surely, there must be a better way to use that last piece of city-owned land!

Another city document states: "Staff have thoroughly examined future land requirements for redevelopment of Kelowna Community Theatre. Staff can confirm that the remaining property (on which the current theatre sits) is sufficient to meet the future theatre needs, including potential expansion to 1,200 seats." 

On what is this based?

Looking into the future as Kelowna grows, did anyone have a grander vision to use the entire piece of this unique civic land with signature architecture to create a lively active centre with a performance theatre at its core and other activities related to culture located in a fine new building?

Note that the new Calgary City Library has become a signature building for the city, with architecture of national significance and a destination in its own right.

Is there no aspiration and leadership in our Kelowna city council related to the future for culture in this city and no comparable ambition to the example in our midst of Mission Hill Winery with its visionary 2002 architecture, which has raised the profile for the entire region and brings people here from around the world? With that vision, it has met the test of time, 17 years later.

This is a disappointing situation for the citizens of Kelowna.

Patricia Ainslie, Kelowna

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