"THIS IS A MEETING, NOT A RALLY."
KELOWNA – It appears the noisy minority will get their way when it comes to how the city will develop 12 properties along Pandosy’s waterfront.
The properties north of Cedar Avenue in the Pandosy Village neighbourhood were purchased by the city in 1999. A first attempt at reaching public consensus for their use failed in 2011 amidst public backlash when Council proposed some of the lots be sold to pay for the development of a park and paddle centre.
Carrying signs that read “I Want More Park”, approximately 60 supporters of a park-only showed up to make their voices heard, and even drew a gentle warning from Mayor Walter Gray at one point when the cheering became too disruptive.
“This is a meeting, not a rally,” he said when the audience first broke into applause. “We don’t always necessarily agree on everything piece by piece but I think the one thing that we all agree on is that at the end of the day we come up with whatever it is that the majority of people can enjoy.”
Roughly half of those in attendance participated in a 30-person design charrette Feb. 25 and 26 in which two of four options were chosen for further assessment of viability.
City staff recommended the less expensive option four be adopted by council Monday. Option four includes 5,700 square metres of park and a potential profit of more than $400,000 after the sale of two properties. It was clear however, the vast majority of the gallery were in favour of the much more expensive option one.
Option one includes more than 10,000 square metres of park and will cost taxpayers approximately $4 million.
Michael Neill is one of the primary supporters of option one and says it wasn’t until the end of the meeting that he felt the gallery would get what they wanted.
“I thought the worst thing that could happen was have them say we'll do nothing,” he says. “I am really glad they brought it back. I couldn't be happier."
In the end, only Mayor Gray, Gail Given and Luke Stack voted against option one, staying consistent with previous statements and objectives put forth by council.
“I still think the charrette arrived at the right conclusion with option four,” Stack says.
City staff were directed to return to council in June with a more detailed assessement of the viability of option one.
Details of all four options can be viewed at the City of Kelowna's website.
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— This story was corrected May 7 to add Mayor Walter Gray to the list of those who voted against option one.