How Kelowna plans to fund its massive backlog in undeveloped parkland | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna News

How Kelowna plans to fund its massive backlog in undeveloped parkland

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KELOWNA - Everybody loves a park and Kelowna councillors have proven no different, giving preliminary approval to new funding to build more green space.

Primary source for the funding will be an as-yet undetermined park development cost charge, infrastructure manager Robert Parlane said, applied on a per suite basis to new construction and used to help build up the park land that new developments already pay for through a park acquisition charge.

Council also approved consideration of an ominous-sounding two per cent infrastructure levy but which is actually a committment by council to spend two per cent of total future taxation on parks infrastructure.

A possible commercial and industrial development cost charge plus revenue from existing and yet-to-be-built parks are also included in the equation that would see Parlane’s department spend just over $5 million a year for the next 35 years.

That would help reduce the backlog of empty parkland already waiting for development and push Kelowna toward the recommended 2.2 hectares of parkland per 1,000 population.

While resistant to any new fees, Parlane said his department has been consulting with the development community, who seem cautiously accepting, perhaps aware of the benefits a park can bring when marketing a new subdivision.

“We’re conscious of that and we don’t want to increase development cost charges unnecessarily and stall development,” Parland added. “The inverse of that is having quality parks helps sell real estate.”

And it's not just another tax grab; many other municipalities do it too. 

“Kelowna is unusual in not charging them, most others do,” Parlane said.

In any event, Parlane said the charges are closely regulated by the province and cannot be used to build “gold-plated” parks and must only be used for parks that are meant to address population growth.

“You can’t put in water parks and artificial turf,” he said.

The package of funding proposals is not yet a done deal and Parlane and staff will spend the summer fleshing out the details before appearing before council again, likely sometime in the fall.

To contact a reporter for this story, email John McDonald or call 250-808-0143 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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