Mayor leads the way changing Kelowna council’s vision of future growth | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Mayor leads the way changing Kelowna council’s vision of future growth

Kelowna City Hall
March 04, 2019 - 3:43 PM

KELOWNA - City council has backed off on its plans to severely limit suburban growth in Kelowna after developers lobbied hard against having their projects cut back.

In an unusual move, Mayor Colin Basran led off the discussion at today's, March 4, city council meeting by saying he’s changed his mind now that staff have provided more information on the impacts of projects that are already underway. Usually, Basran lets other councillors speak first.

“We need to find a path forward for the community as a whole,” Basran said. “Unfortunately, it has become adversarial.”

He blamed himself for that because he didn’t ask for more information from staff earlier in the process.

At issue was how many new homes will be allowed in suburban areas of the city based on the kind of housing needed to accommodate 50,000 more people by 2040.

Council has wavered on this issue since last July and voted by a 5-4 vote in December 2019 to allow only 20 per cent of future growth to be in suburban areas – mainly in single-family homes.

With that objective in mind, staff came back with details on the impacts of that decision on major developments in Wilden, Black Mountain, Kirschner Mountain and Thomson Flats. It would mean up to 1,300 houses already planned for those areas would be cancelled, which would mean, in some cases, commercial centres, some roads and parks would also be cancelled.

Another 400 homes in a proposed new development area in Upper Mission called Thomson Flats would also be cancelled.

The key comment by all the four councillors who had voted for fewer single-family homes in December is that they did not have enough information on the impacts on developers who have, in some cases, worked with the city for more than a decade on their plans.

“We have an ethical responsibility to follow through on the business arrangements we made to our community,” Coun. Loyal Wooldrige said. He’s one of the five who changed his vote.

That was echoed by Coun. Ryann Donn who said he shocked himself in voting for more single-family homes. He also noted that the discussion should be about how to get more density because people everywhere don’t want higher density in their neighbourhoods.

Coun. Mohini Singh also changed her vote.

Coun. Charlie Hodge argued that council should have had more time to make this decision and is the only one on council to vote against the change.

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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