Kelowna Legacy Group calls city council 'irresponsible' for awarding a contract for downtown development | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna Legacy Group calls city council 'irresponsible' for awarding a contract for downtown development

This was the concept the Kelowna Legacy Group had for the RCMP building and surrounding area.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Kelowna Legacy Group
June 10, 2020 - 1:49 PM

Not only was Les Bellamy shocked to learn from that an agreement had been reached to redevelop Kelowna’s former RCMP building but that such a decision would be made during a pandemic.

Bellamy has served as a spokesman for the Kelowna Legacy Group that came together last fall, after the city put out a request for proposals to develop part of the lands on Doyle Avenue where the RCMP headquarters was located.

The group called for a new plan to be drafted to develop that land along with the Kelowna Community Theatre, Memorial Arena and City Hall parking lot lands.

The city announced, earlier today, June 10, that RISE Commercial Developments has taken on a 99-year lease for the land and released conceptual drawings.

READ MORE: Development of the former RCMP site in downtown Kelowna moving ahead with RISE

“I think, with the amount of communication that we’ve had with the city councillors that they were very much aware of where the Legacy Group sits and it would be a courteous thing for them to do to contact us and let us know they were moving forward,” Bellamy said.

The group, and the community, have been badly served by council on the whole process surrounding these lands, he said.

“I feel that the council has misled the community,” Bellamy said. “Mayor Colin Basran told me straight to my face that this was nothing concrete. This was just asking people to put forward ideas. They were looking for concepts and ideas. That’s why we put our proposal together, as informal as it was, because we were informed it was not a formal process.”

The group posted drawings and a video of their rough concept for how the area should be developed.

“Now, all of a sudden, it turns into a formal process, it appears, because they’ve now awarded the contract to somebody. So we’re standing here going ‘how did that happen?’ How did this fast track from an informal request for conceptual ideas to somebody’s got the job and here’s the drawings of what we’re doing and we’re going to the next stage?”

This is a drawing of the new development for the RCMP building.
This is a drawing of the new development for the RCMP building.
Image Credit: Submitted/City of Kelowna

The city approved a Civic Precinct plan in 2016 that called, in part, for the redevelopment of the RCMP site and has followed through based on that plan.

But, Bellamy argued, that planning process, which started in 2015, was not well publicized. He lives 150 metres from the site and works 350 metres from it but didn’t know about the Civic Precinct Plan until the call for proposals went out, he said.

In the last five years, 1,000 new housing units have been or are being built in the downtown area which has developed, during that time, much more than in the previous 20 years, he said.

“I think it’s a little irresponsible for our council to be moving forward with these kinds of major decisions based on five-year-old data,” he said. “I’m concerned about what’s going on with city council making these kinds of decisions during a pandemic that will impact our community for decades to come.”

As for what can be done about it now, Bellamy’s at a loss.

A City of Kelowna news release said the developer “will proceed with the public development permit process as early as September.”

Since the land is already zoned for this use there is no public hearing and, while the development permit has to be approved by city council at a public meeting, there is no opportunity for public input unless variances are requested.

See the Kelowna Legacy Group video below.

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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