July 30, 2013 - 5:16 PM
KELOWNA - As tensions simmer between Interior Health's hospital expansion and Pandosy area residents, city councillors are trying to cool things down.
But negotiating fair boundaries for the hospital's parking area is proving a difficult task without knowing exactly how much land Interior Health has its eyes on.
Two weeks ago it announced its purchase of a house at 434 Royal Avenue designated as part of the Heritage Conservation Area adjacent to the Abbott Street corridor. A public hearing held at City Hall tonight will determine whether or not Interior Health is granted a heritage alternation permit to demolish the 74-year-old building.
Local protest to encroachment of the regional hospital has prompted city staff to map out some perimeters for the hospital area.
But councillors couldn't say whether the boundaries indicate allowable hospital expansion or areas for limiting residential impact.
Counc. Robert Hobson was skeptical of the study, asking whether it accomodates the hospital with more space or protects neighbouring residents.
"It's kind of hard to do both of those at the same time... There will be a lot of suspicion from the neighborhood over the plan," he says.
And it also depends on what Interior Health has envisioned for the area. Future commercial developments in the form of multi-story buildings and parkades would spell more trouble for homeowners, Hobson says. Some of which are already having difficulty selling and renting.
"We are in a way responding to the actions of Interior Health over a number of years - they don't always talk to us when they buy properties," Hobson says, suggesting it's time they "cut to the chase" on IH's longterm plan.
Counc. Luke Stack was particulary concerned about public parking on Royal Avenue.
"I think that whole street is under incredible pressure," he says.
And Counc. Andre Blanleil agreed, but also noted the regional significance of Kelowna's hospital.
"At the same time we have the B.C. Interior's biggest, best hospital."
Tonight's public hearing is open to all members of the public and an opportunity for stakeholders in the Pandosy area to voice their opinions on future parking for the hospital.
The "Hospital Area Plan" is meant to address transitional buffer issues between residential areas and Phases One and Two of the KGH expansion.
Image Credit: City of Kelowna
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013