Shoebox suites are the trend and Kelowna residents better get used to it

It may not look very friendly right now but a micro-suite complex proposed for this site on Dickson Rd. is hoping to attract a new generation of renters.

KELOWNA - A pair of micro-suite projects set to go ahead in Kelowna are part of a trend across Canada to smaller and smaller living spaces, says Kelowna city councillor Gail Given, one that the older generation had better get used to.

“This generation is exploring different options, and these two projects have opened the door to that in Kelowna,” said Given, an avowed micro-suite advocate. “It may not be what we’ve always done but I find that young professionals today are looking for different things than I looked for and that’s not necessarily spending a lot of time inside. They are more into experiencing the outdoors than maybe putting their money into a house.”

At a public hearing Tuesday, council approved a development variance allowing a 251-unit micro-suite complex for Academy Way, just south of UBC Okanagan. At the same time, they approved a zoning change allowing a 90-unit building on Dickson Road near the Landmark complex. Half those units would be micro-suites less than 400 square feet.

Remarkable to Given is that two such projects, both purpose built as rental housing, would come on line at the same time and that staff and council could be persuaded to support less than one parking space per unit for the Academy Way project, a ratio that has been more or less sacred for many years.

“Developers are reacting to the change in the market so we have to react too,” said Given, who added she would be watching how both projects unfold and their effect on the rental market in Kelowna where the vacancy rate is hovering around one per cent. “My hope is that these projects deliver rental options at a lower price point than we can now find in Kelowna.”

What this doesn’t mean is a flood of micro-suite projects in Kelowna. City planners, in their report to council, warn that developers should not take the parking variance granted to the Academy Way project as the new benchmark for future projects.

To contact the reporter for this story, email John McDonald at or call 250-808-0143. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

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