Unhappy with city direction

Sports enterprises will say they want to take the organization in a different direction when they decide to get rid of management.

Well, I believe it is time we said that to management at Kelowna City Hall, and remove top management, including planning.

(I believe) management is not serving the residents and taxpayers of Kelowna. Below are a few examples of their “disregard” of our well-being, and the “reckless” disregard for the environment in our city.

1. The “pandering” to developers of high rises along the lake is well documented. Previous city Official City Plans called for gradual increase in building height moving away from the lake. That was scrapped, while rezoning and variances provided a haven for developers, national and international investors. One example is the 25-storey zoning downtown which means 40 storeys to staff.

2. Rezoning for development of our ever popular, environmentally significant Heritage Conservation Areas.

3. Overpayment for assets, most recently the lot on Mission Creek for three times market value, and the eventual exorbitant price tag for the Parkinson Recreation Centre, estimated (by critics) to be overpriced by $100 million plus approximately $75 million in interest (over 30 years), versus comparable centres. These are just two examples of the contempt management has for our tax dollars.

4. The city manager put forth a proposal to council for the Parkinson Recreation Centre replacement local ($242 million) without so much as a scale model, drawings or the minimal financial costing. The city did not have the courage to go to referendum, but pushed the Alternative Approval Process in the hot summer.

5. Hesitancy until recently to provide any local plan for affordable homes in Kelowna.

6. The management team supported the destruction of a superb and environmentally important golf course in Kelowna.

7. It supported the destruction of 135 affordable homes at the Central Mobile Park. That is a magnificent park with dozens of tall trees, which also provides a quiet and healthy neighbourhood for the elementary school children next door. The city had no problem supporting a five-storey boat barn on the lakeshore a couple of blocks away though.

8. Construction of and estimated $800,000 and and estimated $600,000 washroom at City Park and Gyro Beach respectively that are closed for about five months of the year. People need them in the winter as well, but we couldn’t winterize them for that price?

9. No matter how congested our roads have become, our city’s management want thousands more cars on our streets.

Our mayor and council need to be shaken up with new ideas that are resident-friendly and environmentally friendly.

In the words of Jan Gehl, a world-renowned Danish architect and planner, the order of priorities when planning are, “first people, then space and then building”. We have been doing the reverse for too long, even ignoring the first two most of the time.

Clean house, change focus.

Don Henderson

(Editor's note: The reference to rezoning heritage conservation areas in not the city directed move, it is a result of a change in provincial housing rules.)

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