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Kelowna adjusting housing projections for urban centres

Image Credit: ADOBE STOCK
September 17, 2018 - 6:00 PM

KELOWNA - Councillors already appear to be scaling back an aggressive plan made just a month ago to move future growth into multi-family housing in urban centres.

In mid-August, councillors considered the Official Community Plan and their vision for 2040 called for 80 per cent of new housing to be multi-family in the city’s five urban centres.

Since then, staff sought input from the Urban Development Institute – an organization representing Okanagan developers – and landowners who already have plans approved for building single-family homes in suburban areas of the city.

At a meeting today, Sept. 17, they came back with a recommendation to adjust the OCP vision to only 75 per cent multi-family, in part because current construction and plans in place would need to be changed just to meet that target.

Mayor Colin Basran and other seemed to support the new target, though they can’t act on it until later.

“This is striking a balance between those who favour the status quo – leave us alone – and those who see the value of pushing forward and being a progressive community,” Mayor Colin Basran said.

Planners say the 80 per cent target would have meant stopping development on suburban land already designated for housing.

The plan still calls for growth being concentrated in five urban centres: City Centre, Pandosy, Capri-Landmark, Midtown (which includes Orchard Park) and Rutland. Another 14,500 homes are projected for these by 2040.

An additional 5,400 units are expected near those urban centres.

Another 7,000 single family homes are projected for suburban areas. This does not include what is called the Thomson Flats — the only suburban area currently being considered for future housing.

Melcor Developments Ltd. is looking to develop Thomson Flats, which consists of five properties covering 255 hectares on the city’s south end between Chute Lake Road and Bellevue Creek. An Area Structure Plan is currently being drafted.

When asked how many more single-family units that might add to the mix, Danielle Noble-Brandt, Policy and Planning Department Manager, said it’s still too early to say.

Councillor Ryan Donn asked whether the city could legally create rental-only zoning and wondered if an existing zone could be “double zoned” to a higher density if it was used for rental housing.
Noble-Brant said she would look into the legality of such a move.

By concentrating growth in the urban centres, it’s expected that more people will use transit, bicycles or their feet to commute to and from work. It will also lower the cost of infrastructure (roads, sewers, etc.) costs.

The goal is to have 50 per cent of housing in Kelowna to be multi-family by 2040.

Councillors agreed to receive the report. It’s expected to go to the regular council meeting next Monday for a vote.

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