Kelowna needs to rethink a massive new park as a gift from a developer, group says | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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

This is an overview of the McKinley Beach development.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/City of Kelowna
August 05, 2021 - 6:00 PM

The City of Kelowna has a chance to get 246 acres of parkland in the McKinley area of the city but a group of concerned citizens wants them to put the brakes on it because the trade-off is more urban sprawl.

Kinnikinnik Developments got approval more than a decade ago to create the McKinley Beach resort project with up to 1,300 homes and a golf course.

There have now been 473 homes approved or built with another 76 in-stream. The company is asking to trade land that was intended for the golf course and is mostly in the Agricultural Land Reserve. In exchange, it wants to add more land to the development and spread out the remaining 751 homes that were envisioned in the original plan.

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

“In 2012, council approved the concept of a resort community composed primarily of multiple family dwellings, assuming that there would be limited travel to and from Kelowna from this destination resort,” states a press release from a group of “sustainability” organizations. “Fast forward to July 2021 and the developer has offered up a small plot of ALR land for a proposed park in exchange for the go-ahead to develop an additional 800-plus units of mostly single-family homes spread over 350 acres.”

The application for zoning changes goes to a public hearing on Tuesday. The group wants council to hold off on making any decision until it can study the environmental and economic impact of the development.

Members say that the vision has strayed from a resort community to a residential community, which means the old traffic impact studies are no longer valid since residential traffic is heavier than what was originally envisioned.

They also say that the cost of servicing such a sprawled-out development does not pay for itself and violates the city’s efforts to concentrate development in urban centres.

They point to the recent rejection of the Thomson Flats subdivision for 680 homes in the South Mission as an example to follow. That was described by city staff as an “iceberg” development because, even though the developer pays to put in the initial roads and services, over time the cost of maintaining and replacing those services has to be subsidized by general taxpayers.

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

The sustainability group wants the same thinking to apply to the McKinley proposal.

“The group is asking that the city defer a final decision on the proposal and postpone any decision until a fulsome evaluation of the climate impacts of the change are completed, along with an analysis of the true cost to the city for the infrastructure improvements that the proposal would necessitate,” the news release states.

The group includes the Okanagan Sustainable Leadership Council, Okanagan Climate Hub, Green Okanagan, the Green Party’s Kelowna riding association and a number of individuals.

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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