KELOWNA - It’s going to take $100 million to fix what’s wrong with the Capri Landmark area and turn it into a sustainable town centre but Kelowna’s mayor says it’s well worth the price.
“It’s an area that does not have a plan, never mind an old one that needs updating,” Basran said. “Let’s be honest, it does need some work.”
Located at Kelowna’s geographic centre, the Landmark complex of high-rises was developed under a land use contract in the area where old Kelowna petered out and the Orchard Park mall commercial area began.
It has since become one of the busiest areas of town during rush hour as hundreds of office workers descend on the area.
New residents of Kelowna soon get used to Sutherland Avenue which T-bones awkwardly with Highway 97 at the Landmark complex.
The Landmark Capri preferred concept plan would change all that by rerouting Sutherland entirely at Burtch Road, away from the highway to a junction with Spall Road.
Build-out for the ambitious town centre makeover is over 20 years but will see almost double the number of people living within its boundaries to around 11,000 by increasing residential density and encouraging high-rise construction.
Nearly half the $100 million price tag is the cost of land acquisition for the new road, a major new park and the expansion of an old one along with upgrades to cycling and pedestrian infrastructure.
Focus of the new town center will be along the realigned Sutherland Avenue, which will be anchored in the west by the Capri mall redevelopment.
A portion of Dickson Avenue will be closed off to create a pedestrian only campus effect for the buildings while a section of Dayton Street would also be closed off to create a public plaza where the two roads intersect.
Linear parks will be developed along the accessible portions of Mill Creek and by re-establishing an old waterway called Ritchie Brook.
Staff is still looking at ways to cover the shortfall between the final price tag of $100 million and the $65 million in development cost charges the city can expect to bring from increased residential and commercial development in the area.
Some of Basran’s council colleagues didn’t share his enthusiasm but the mayor says fixing the area now will be cheaper than in the long run and it falls squarely within its mandate of “growing community.”
“If you think this is expensive, it’s a lot more expensive to be building on the outskirts of the community and running infrastructure out there,” Basran said.
The mayor says their consultation process shows buy-in from home and business owners in the Capri Landmark area.
“Parts of it are not very aesthetically pleasing,” the mayor added, likening it to a half-finished painting that needs finishing off.
Basran is unapologetic for pushing the adoption of the ambitious plan and says it touches on a lot of things he is passionate about.
“Why would we start with a mediocre plan? Why not start with the very best,” he said. “It is incumbent on us as a council to put plans into place that are going to benefit future generations. That means vibrant town centres closer to where we work, near recreational and cultural amenities and utilizing alternative forms of transportation.”
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