City of Kelowna, developer sued by diamond hunter over massive lakeshore condo project | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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City of Kelowna, developer sued by diamond hunter over massive lakeshore condo project

A digitalized view from the water, looking at the proposed Aqua Resort.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Mission Group
August 01, 2021 - 6:00 PM

Diamond hunter Charles Fipke is suing the City of Kelowna and Aqua Resorts in an attempt to stop a controversial waterfront project from being built.

Charles Fipke, a geologist who struck it rich in the '90s when he discovered diamonds in the Northwest Territories, argues that Aqua Waterfront Village should not be built due to its footprint going beyond allowable, predetermined parametres because submerged land was used in the land calculation.

Fipke, who has previously stated his opposition to this project, lives in a single-family home on Capozzi Road, adjacent to the proposed project.

"The immediate neighbourhood is an amalgam of resort-style residential properties and single family homes," Fipke's lawyer Christopher Harvey wrote in a lawsuit filed July 22.  

"The majority of the properties there, including the lots, are zoned for tourist commercial uses and designated for mixed use tourist/commercial in the city's official community plan."

The Aqua Development, however, would significantly densify the neighbourhood by, among other things, adding towers of 13, 15 and 17 storeys apiece and reducing the setback of the development.

The zoning bylaw variances needed to get these design elements were granted in January 2021.

"The decision to authorize the development permit and variance permit is patently unreasonable because they authorize a development proposal beyond the power of council to approve," reads the lawsuit.

"Specifically the project's floor area ratio is inconsistent with the FAR limit expressed in zoning bylaw 8,000."

FAR is the measurement of a building's floor area in relation to the size of the lot on which the building is located. It's expressed as a decimal number and derived by dividing the total area of the building by the total area of the parcel.

That number is set at 1.5 times the total square footage of the lots.

"The permit applications presented to council (for Aqua) calculated FAR on the basis of an incorrect buildable land area of the lots," reads the lawsuit, that states that land beyond the shoreline was factored into the calculation.

"The lot size used in the application to calculate the project FAR is about 65,000 square feet greater than the actual lot size and the lot size described by the city in its public documents. Using the correct lot size of the property, the project's FAR is closer to 2."

The suit concludes, the permits in question authorize a development that is prohibited by the statutory scheme in place.

"The decision to approve them was thus unreasonable," the suit reads.

"The permits should be quashed."

A hearing on the matter is expected to take two days.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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