KELOWNA - Although there is more opposition to the proposed tourism centre on Okanagan Lake in downtown Kelowna than the City expected, the majority of the opinions are positive.
Numbers released by the city last week show out of 233 letters received about the tourist centre, 64 per cent were in favour.
“I think this project is exciting,” city councillor Luke Stack says. “Tourism is such a vital part of our community, it’s very important to our economy.”
Over 1.5 million people visit Kelowna annually, spending about $279 million locally.
The tourism centre is set to go on the water, at the foot of Queensway in downtown Kelowna. The current tourist information centre is located at 544 Harvey Avenue.
Tourism Kelowna says over 440,000 people use the boardwalk along the waterfront, making the space ideal for the centre.
“Visitors come to the focal point of the city... that’s near the water, that’s where the people are,” Tourism Kelowna board chair Daniel Bibby says.
The proposed single storey, 3,000 square foot building will be set back 15 metres from the water in place of the current parking lot.
Originally the building proposed was 40 per cent larger with a second floor to house office space and was to be located in City Park, however council responded to large and vocal opposition, and rejected the plan.
“The centre will be a huge source of pride for the local community,” Bibby says. “It will be a pretty iconic building.”
The building will be predominately made of glass, featuring B.C. wood products. Bibby calls it a “tourist experience centre.”
“We want to act as a concierge-like service for visitors,” he says. “Our goal is to help educate travelers to our community that there is so much to do here, year round.”
The building will cost Tourism Kelowna $2.8 million. There will be no funding from the City towards the project.
First reading of the bylaw to resone the property for the new tourism centre was approved unanimously by council in December 2016. The proposal is scheduled for a public hearing at city council chambers on Tuesday, Jan. 24.
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