Conceptual drawing
Conceptual drawing

Getting higher in downtown Kelowna

by - Story: 46208

The skyline of downtown Kelowna is in for a dramatic change.

At Tuesday's public hearing, Council awarded a development permit to Aquilini Development for construction of a 27 storey, mixed-use complex on Bernard Avenue.

The development would include 21 storeys of residential space comprising of 205 units, built on top of a six storey high podium.

The podium is designed to have grade level commercial units facing Bernard Avenue, plus six internal levels of parking.

The complex would sit on three properties on the north side of Bernard between Pandosy and Ellis streets.

Council voted 8-1 to approve the request for both the development and variance permit.

Councillor Angela Reid cast the lone dissenting vote.

While she thinks the overall project is beautiful and will bring a lot of benefit to the downtown area, Reid says she has a problem with the height of the building.

"I believe we can achieve the same benefits, stimulating commerce and a great live, work play environment with lower buildings. My own observations and the research I've done indicate seven to 10 storeys is the height of building that creates a truly livable space," says Reid.

"I think we can achieve the density objectives and the long-term growth objectives of the city without having to block views and build really tall buildings that are less sustainable from an environmental, economic and social perspective."

Reid says she believes buildings of that height may be appropriate for other areas of the city, but not the downtown core.

"If we are building those types of buildings that are inherently less energy efficient than shorter buildings, then I think there should be a higher level of environmental certification achieved."

She says in this case, while the developer has indicated the are eligible for LEED Silver certification, they are not pursing that certification.

"This gives me a level of discomfort because I feel there may be some 'green washing' going on. The certification would cost about $731 per unit and I think home buyers are very interested in seeing that third party verification that what they say they are doing is true."

While approving the development, Mayor Sharon Shepherd, says she also had concerns about the environmental aspects.

"They have talked about it meeting LEED Silver/Gold, but that they were not going to certify it. They left with a number of us encouraging them to consider this certification rather than what many are calling 'Green Washing,' where they say they are going to build green and yet are not required to get tested," says Shepherd.

Despite the one concern, Shepherd says the development is a very exciting and important addition to the downtown core.

"It's going to be an improvement to Bernard which I would like to really see move forward. We've lots of plans done on the future look of Bernard Avenue. This development may finally push us to finally adopt something that this development will have to follow."

There is no word on when construction may begin.

Ironically, the building is just a block and a half outside the proposed 'CD Development Zone,' which, if approved by Council, would stretch as far east as Water Street.

The 'CD Development Zone' has yet to be approved by City Council.

The proposal is still in the hands of the Ministry of Transportation.

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