December 08, 2015 - 10:30 AM
KELOWNA - Town centres are the jewels of a city, where population and employment are dense and amenities and services make the area liveable.
Kelowna has five town centres and the city is counting on them to both help counter the urban sprawl that characterized earlier development and to anchor future growth.
This week city councillors heard those centres — City Centre, Capri-Landmark, South Pandosy, Rutland and Midtown — are expected to draw 44 per cent of future growth over the next 15 years.
“The city is in need of improved planning to ensure future development and investment within the five urban centres results in the development of cohesive urban centres that provide a high quality of life to the city’s residents,” planner specialist Ross Soward said in a report to council.
Town centres are highly urbanized, pedestrian-friendly environments drawing people from the larger area around them, Soward wrote in his report. They provide a mix of land uses and a variety of housing types, contributing to social diversity.
Town centres draw people for work, shopping and recreation and are at least two kilometres apart, drawing from a larger surrounding community of 25,000 with density dropping as the distance from the core increases.
Soward and the planning department asked councillors to endorse a draft of the Urban Centres Roadmap, a planning framework staff hopes will guide the development of individual urban centres.
The framework will include planning principles, performance targets and something called a prioritization matrix, which will guide the timing of development priorities.
Soward provided councillors with eight draft principles for town centre development and said they would eventually be used to establish specific development targets within them.
Councillors were generally supportive of the draft principles and most spoke favourably of town centres.
Coun. Charlie Hodge called the draft principles a 'significant document' and said he is a big supporter of urban centre development.
“To my mind, the key to urban centres is not forgetting the foot traffic,” Hodge said. “Most important is the children. If it’s good for children, then it’s good for women and if it’s good for women and children, it’s good for the whole community.”
Council voted to endorse the town centre planning principles, which Soward said would be refined further for an additional public consultation meeting and then brought back sometime in early 2016.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015