Legacy project proposed

A group of prominent Kelowna citizens is urging the city to take a step back from plans to redevelop the former RCMP detachment site on Doyle Avenue.

The city is looking to sell the property for a potential mixed-use commercial and residential tower. Proceeds of the sale would be put towards further development of what is referred to as the Civic Precinct, an area stretching from Queensway to Clement avenues and Water to Ellis streets.

However, the Kelowna Legacy Group believes the city needs to pause the process in favour of more public consultation.

Spokesman Philip Whealy, who joined the group Sunday, says instead of developing the RCMP site without an overarching plan, the city needs to step back and devise a plan for the other three properties in the area, including Memorial Arena, the City Hall parking lot and Kelowna Community Theatre.

"It's time to start thinking big, it's time to start thinking world class, it's time to start thinking legacy," he said.

"If the city rushes to sell off small properties of this gem of an opportunity to developers who, frankly, lack a community focus, without current, up-to-date, fully informed consultation ... then we fear our downtown and cultural district will never be able to claim its rightful place as a hub of community building."

The plan put forth by the group includes an extended art walk stretching north from Kasugai Garden to a civic plaza just beyond the RCMP site, an 11-storey hotel/condo complex with parking and commercial on the former detachment site, a new, state-of-the-art performance centre on what is now the City Hall parking lot, community centre on the theatre site and mixed-public-use complex where Memorial Arena currently stands.

The four buildings would be connected in a horseshoe design with a rooftop park and outdoor stage.

buildings would also include retail and commercial spaces, which could be problematic under the Simpson Covenant, which governs use of the property where City Hall and Memorial Arena sit.

However, Whealy says they have spoken with the Simpson family, and there is "a willingness to look at developing the entirety of the area in a way that will truly benefit the community."

As for paying for the developments, Whealy pointed to public, private partnerships as one answer.

"We need to engage multiple stakeholders including P3 partners.... It's time to be creative."

The city's RFP on the RCMP property ended last Monday. There's no word when it will be awarded.

Kelowna Legacy Concept - 2019 from Les Bellamy on Vimeo.

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