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Commercial on the waterfront?

Kelowna City Council has endorsed a new public engagement process aimed at having the city and community work together to craft a new plan for the Pandosy Waterfront.

The redevelopment of the seven city-owned lakefront properties on Abbott Street, north of Cedar Avenue is listed as one of Council’s priorities for 2014.

“We understand there were concerns with the last version of the site plan and we are ready to take another look,” Mayor Walter Gray stated during Monday's council meeting.

“A lot has changed since the project was last before the community in 2011. We’ve got a new Council, we’ve proposed the inclusion of a paddle centre and staff has worked with the community to come up with an agreeable engagement process.”

A previous attempt at developing the waterfront at that location failed three years ago after a stiff public backlash against a proposed commercial component to the park project.

Council at the time hoped the commercial building would offset the cost of park construction.

While council agreed no additional taxpayer money would go into the project, there was agreement

"I know in other properties we have actually looked for money back to city coffers so we could invest in other areas of the city through the process of buy, sever, sell," says Councillor Gail Given.

"I note staff are not actually even looking for monies back but for a break even which I think is very reasonable. It's something that is workable."

The mayor disagreed somewhat saying he would expect a project that does funnel money back to the city.

"While it is too early because we are going into a consultative process, so it would be too early for us to pre-suppose anything, but my expectation would be at the end of the day we come up with an exciting project that actually does spit some money back into the greater community," says Gray.

"But, at the end of the day I think we want the headline to read, 'Great Plan, No Tax Impact.' It's people that came before us that actually put up the money to build the land and we have to be the custodians for a project that is going to benefit the entire community."

As part of the framework going into the engagement process, Council endorsed a set of eight project parameters or guidelines for the redevelopment. These include:

  • Paddle Centre – Accommodate Kelowna Paddle Centre within redevelopment scenarios, including up to 5,000 square feet of space.
  • Financial Viability – Complete the development with no additional tax impact and consider development options which result in a financial return to the City for further reinvestment opportunities in the community.
  • Park – Incorporate a park and waterfront walkway as an integral part of the site.
  • Pedestrian and Park Connections – Incorporate park and pedestrian connections to current and anticipated developments.
  • Parking – Design site and buildings to meet bylaw requirements for parking in future zoning.
  • Riparian Setbacks – Respect required riparian setbacks.
  • Council Policy – Adhere to or make recommendations for amendment to Council Policy 76.
  • Timing – Complete public engagement and any required rezoning by the fall of 2014.

“The engagement process will kick off next week, including a two-day charrette or urban design workshop at the end of February,” said Graham Hood, Strategic Land Development Manager.

“We recognize that we need broad community involvement, so we’ll round out the process with our online engagement tool, an open house and public review sessions at the end of each charrette day.”

A final decision on the project is expected to be made by council before the November municipal elections.

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