No highrises in West Kelowna’s future except for a winery tower | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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No highrises in West Kelowna’s future except for a winery tower

At eight storeys, this proposed tower at Goats Peak Winery could be the only highrise in West Kelowna for the next 30 years.
Image Credit: Submitted/City of West Kelowna
July 13, 2021 - 6:00 AM

West Kelowna’s population is expected to jump by almost 20,000 people by 2050 but no highrises are expected to be built to house them.

That’s based on a report going to city council, July 13.

“There are notably no highrise apartments (buildings greater than five storeys) in West Kelowna, a trend that is expected to persist during the projection period due to consumer demand and the required rental/condo rates necessary to facilitate financially viable high-rise development,” states the report from Colliers Strategy and Consulting.

The Goats Peak Winery has proposed an eight-storey tower as part of its winery building. If approved, that qualifies it as a highrise and that will require West Kelowna Fire Rescue to train all its staff in fighting highrise fires and require some equipment to be purchased.

READ MORE: West Kelowna winery plan would require highrise training for firefighters

“This is a leap that will require a different set of equipment, a different set of firefighting techniques and, therefore, a different set of training for our people,” department chief Jason Brolund told iNFOnews.ca in June. “It’s one of those things where, when we move into highrise firefighting, we need to have the entire department prepared for it when the first building opens up.”

If the Colliers report is accepted, that means all that training and equipment will be required just in case there’s a fire in only one winery tower.

That proposal still has to go to council.

The Colliers report says the city will need 4,856 housing units by 2040 and expects 1,822 to be single-family homes, 1,896 to be low-rise apartments (four to six storeys) and the rest as semi-detached or row housing.

That will require up to 475 acres of land.

It sees the current population of 37,046 growing by 6,206 by 2030 to 43,252 and adding a total of 18,669 new residents by 2050, reaching a population of 55,715.

People over the age of 65 will be the fastest growing age group at 2.9 per cent, followed by 35-54-year-olds, growing at 1.8 per cent.

Along with no highrises foreseen for decades yet, standalone office buildings aren’t likely to happen either.

“Despite modest future demand growth, the costs of constructing standalone Class A office buildings, and the relatively lower achievable lease rates compared to Kelowna will make the development of standalone office buildings unlikely in the near future,” the report says.

What is more likely is an increase in commercial and industrial space.

There’s currently 1.6 million square feet of retail space in West Kelowna and Westbank First Nation with a 6.5 per cent vacancy rate. More than half (895,000 square feet) is on Westbank First Nation land. Retail space is expected to grow by 110,000 square feet by 2030 and 327,000 square feet by 2040.

“Younger consumers prefer experiential settings such as pedestrianized environments with ample patio space, high quality urban design, and natural features that enhance the overall retail experience,” the report says. “The city could consider encouraging the continued introduction of such elements in key retail nodes such as within Westbank Centre and in new neighbourhood-serving mixed-use developments.”

West Kelowna has 6.6 million square feet of occupied industrial land, with more than half of it being in the West Kelowna Business Park.

The city has 513 acres of land designated for industrial use but will need 146 more acres by 2030 and 228 acres by 2040.

“In theory, without this additional industrial supply, West Kelowna could potentially lose jobs that would otherwise locate in the city,” the report says.


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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