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Letters  

More green space needed

Re. Former Kelowna Tolko mill site concept plans

Studies show parks and green spaces in urban areas result in increased social connection, better health, and decreased isolation, aggression, and crime. Peoples’ sense of well being is improved. Parks also draw in tourists.

In September, Holar Developments presented to Kelowna city council three concept drawings of the possible development of the (former) Tolko mill site. The site is approximately 16.2 hectares in size (17.6 hectares if you include the nearby B.C. Tree Fruit property). The three concepts are fairly similar, proposing 3,500 residential units, 350 senior and student units and approximately 225,000-square-feet of retail space.

The three concepts include between three hectares and four hectares of park space, including the riparian setback, and 5.06 hectares to 6.27 hectares of parks and open space, which includes the park land, waterfront pathway, riparian setback, linear parks, natural spaces and public plazas. The riparian setback is mandated by law and is approximately 0.6 hectares.

In B.C., on average, 2.37 people occupy each strata unit. If this remains true, the former mill site will add approximately 8,200 new residents to Kelowna.

Is the park land being proposed for this development sufficient? The resounding answer is no. The 2040 Official Community Plan calls for 2.2 hectares of park per 1,000 new people. On build out, the developer’s concept plans include only 0.36 to 0.48 hectares per 1,000 people. If you remove the required riparian setbacks, the concepts provide 0.29 to 0.41 hectares per 1,000 people, well short of what the community plan’s vision is for the city. This deficit of parkland for the residents is particularly stark, when you consider the multitude of tourists who will also be drawn to the area.

The developer points out that 2.2 hectares per 1,000 people is a community wide objective. This is true, but where would the new park land exist for these residents? On the outskirts of town, where everyone has to drive to get to it?

This is one of the few remaining large pieces of land downtown. It is certainly one of the few pieces of waterfront land left. The people who will live in this development will need park land near where they live, parkland to which they can walk and bike and where they can take their children.

The people who will live in the area deserve the better life that parks provide. To argue there are other parks in the area (Knox, Jack Brow) that the new residents can use, doesn’t offset the real park deficit which this development will create.

If Holar wants to leave a legacy—as it claims to want to do—then it needs to substantially increase the amount of park land provided in this development and, in exchange, the city could reduce or wave land acquisition and improvement development cost charges, or the city needs to purchase some of the land to create more park space.

Let’s have a real legacy for the city, one where 100 years in the future people will appreciate the forward thinking of the city’s (current) mayor and councillors, and will continue to enjoy a better life.

Penny Pearson



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