Kelowna city council says no to urban sprawl but loses out on major public park | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna city council says no to urban sprawl but loses out on major public park

Land near the McKinley Reservoir won't be gifted to the City of Kelowna as parkland.
Image Credit: Google Earth
August 25, 2021 - 8:27 AM

A tie vote by Kelowna city council late last night defeated a proposal from a developer to gift a 250-acre park to the city.

The developers of what was originally the McKinley Beach resort community wanted to give land around the McKinley reservoir to the city in exchange for the right to build hundreds of homes on lands sprawling beyond the original lands they were allowed to build on.

READ MORE: Developer wants to donate land to create Kelowna’s second largest park

“I want to make sure we protect our future and our environment,” councillor Luke Stack said last night, Aug. 24, in opposing the plan, pointing out that he was on council when the current Official Community Plan was written and a permanent urban growth boundary was created.

“The whole reason the OCP was written the way it was, was to protect McKinley Landing from becoming a major development area,” Coun. Stack said. “My defining factor is the permanent growth boundary. This is a unique property which is a little circle which is quite far outside our permanent growth boundary. What we’re being asked tonight, if we had it on a map, is to enlarge that circle. I’m not prepared to enlarge that circle.”

McKinley Beach was approved more than a decade ago but never developed into the resort community that was originally envisioned.

The developers, therefore, want to switch to single family homes on larger lots.

A two-hour public hearing two weeks ago was deferred until last night because a traffic study had not been made available to the public.

READ MORE: Future of major new Kelowna park put on hold due to procedural error

There were another two hours of public input last night, much of it focussing on the environmental impact of the proposal.

While some argued the park – which was originally going to be a golf course – was an environmental benefit, others argued that sprawl development created more pollution and was bad for the environment.

READ MORE: Kelowna needs to rethink a massive new park as a gift from a developer, group says

“I can say no and hope for the best later or make a decision now that I believe brings finality to this area and we have a clear picture of what is going to happen in perpetuity,” Mayor Colin Basran said in supporting the proposal.

Mayor Basran argued that, with thousands of single-family homes about to be proposed next door in Lake Country, there would be huge pressure in the future to develop the McKinley Beach lands, likely with more homes than is currently being proposed.

In the end, the proposal to exchange parkland for sprawl was defeated with a tie vote since councillor Ryan Donn was not at the meeting.

This follows on a council decision in March to turn down a major single-family housing proposal, called the Thomson Flats, in the southern end of the city because it was seen as sprawl development.

READ MORE: Kelowna has learned the 'iceberg' lesson of sprawling development

Mayor Basran was joined by councillors Gail Given, Brad Sieben and Maxine DeHart in supporting the proposal. Coun. Stack was joined by councillors Charlie Hodge, Mohini Singh and Loyal Wooldridge in opposing it.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro 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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