Kelowna's Chamber of Commerce has come out against a possible move by city council to save the Kelowna Springs Golf Course.
A public hearing on the future of the local golf course will be held Tuesday, with council considering changing the land use designation for the golf course from industrial back to private recreational. The land use designation was changed last year to industrial under the 2040 Official Community Plan, after the previous owners said the property would likely not remain a golf course.
As a result, the 106-acre property was sold last fall to Denciti Development Corp for “north of $30 million,” with plans to redevelop the property as industrial.
Council is now reconsidering the land-use designation, following widespread protest by those in the community who want to save the golf course. But in a letter to council, Kelowna Chamber of Commerce chair Dan Price says reversing course would send an “uncertain message” to businesses looking at Kelowna.
“We wish to reinforce that the current process being employed by council is sending an uncertain message to the investment and development community,” said Price.
“For an owner to purchase a private property based on a designated land-use that was entrenched in the adopted OCP and spend an enormous amount of time and financial resources preparing a long-term plan for that property is a major commitment and now, that time and investment is being put at risk.”
Price notes the city will receive millions of dollars through development cost charges and ongoing taxation if the property is developed into a light industrial park, which could be used to fund costly recreation projects like the redevelopment of the Parkinson Rec Centre.
“The financial benefits through fees and taxes that would flow to the citizens of Kelowna from redevelopment would only be surpassed by the boost to the local economy as result of 500-600 well-paying jobs (1,200 in the long-term),” Price says.
He says Denciti Development Corp should be allowed to follow due process “if and when they wish to re-zone the property for industrial use.”
Meanwhile, an online petition to “save the Kelowna Springs greenspace” has currently garnered more than 4,700 signatures.
“Kelowna Springs houses 300 mature trees, as well as many species of flora and fauna, including turtles, foxes, owls, muskrats, ducks, geese, fish, ospreys, bald eagles, hawks, herons, bats and other animals,” the petition states.
Earlier this year, councillor Luke Stack said he has never received more public feedback about one topic than about Kelowna Springs., noting city hall had received 97 pieces of correspondence as of Wednesday, all in favour of changing the future land use of the golf course from industrial to private recreational.