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Kelowna council rejects Kettle Valley development proposal after lengthy debate

About 65 people showed up at Kelowna council chambers for a public hearing on a controversial development in Kettle Valley, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017.
January 11, 2017 - 4:30 PM

KELOWNA - Kelowna city council has said no to a development proposal in the Kettle Valley neighbourhood after a public hearing last night.

Sixteen members of the neighbourhood got up to speak at Tuesday night’s, Jan. 10, council meeting, while roughly 65 were in attendance. Council rejected the proposal six votes to two. 

The proposed development would have placed 82 town homes on one of the last undeveloped parcels of land in Kettle Valley between Quilchena Drive and Thalia Street. Owned by Kettle Valley Holdings, the land was originally put aside for a school. However, as of 2014, the Kelowna School District confirmed it had no plans to build the school.

Residents say they were always expecting a school to be built and were never informed the land could potentially be used for residential development.

Barbara Bishop and her family moved to Kettle Valley from Edmonton six years ago and lives on Thalia Street, which borders the open space.

“We came up to Kettle Valley because it was so silent and so peaceful, it really drew us into what kind of community and neighborhood it was,” says Bishop. “The people, the land, everything about it.”

Bishop, who works as a consultant for the school district, says the current schools in the area cannot handle a greater influx of children.

Project consultant Ben Rawlinson says he believes the developer made a lot of effort to include the wishes of Kettle Valley residents, and he looks forward to working with residents in the future to accomodate everybody's needs.

Current view of Kettle Valley green space.
Current view of Kettle Valley green space.
Image Credit: Google Maps
 

"Those that were present definitely were a passionate group with valid concerns," said Rawlinson. "Unfortunately, they didn’t execute the ability they had to provide feedback fourteen months ago when the project was announced."

Rawlinson says there is also some frustration surrounding a petition Kettle Valley residents have put forward, which includes 723 signatures.

"The petition sows some misinformation in terms of the number of homes proposed in the development," he says. "The distinct embellishment is a bit frustrating."

The petition claims the plans range from 160 townhouse units to 80 single family units instead of the proposed total of 82. 

A concern brought up by many presenters was traffic, as there is only one direct route leading out of the subburb. The three schools at the bottom of the hill make traffic in the morning a nightmare, Bishop says.  

“Currently we can’t get down the hill in the morning for work. If anything happens, anyone has an accident along that one way, we’re blocked and trapped,” she says. “I think it’s a safety concern we have to consider for our city."

Rory Millikin has lived in Kettle Valley for 10 years and says if the city has no plan for improving the roads in and out of the suburb, they have no business increasing the density of residents.

"This city is exponentially growing. Twelve years ago you could get across the city during rush hour in 20 minutes, now you can't go five blocks," he says.

Millikin says the city should be making widening Lakeshore Road and Chute Lake Road a priority.

"We're at a breaking point," he says. "The fact the mayor wants to cram more people up here shows how out of touch he is with the situation."

Mayor Colin Basran voted in favor of the proposal, saying it “struck a balance between green space and development.”

Proposed Quilchena Development lot plan.
Proposed Quilchena Development lot plan.
Image Credit: Alpin Martin Consultants LTD., KettleValley.com
— This story was updated at 2:20 p.m., Thursday, Jan 12, 2017 to correct the status of who owns the land.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jenna Hickman 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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