Planners for Kelowna’s Tolko site could look to this massive Burnaby project for ideas | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Planners for Kelowna’s Tolko site could look to this massive Burnaby project for ideas

This is a rendering of the potential 40-acre Willingdon Lands development in Burnaby.
Image Credit: Submitted/City of Burnaby

On the surface, there’s not a lot of similarity between Kelowna’s lakefront and a Burnaby property near a freeway.

The one striking similarity, however, is that both are 40 acres in size and both are drafting redevelopment plans.

The Willingdon Lands Master Plan covers 40 acres of land at the intersection of Canada Way and Willingdon Avenue, across the street from the B.C. Institution of Technology.

The Tolko mill, which is also 40 acres, is on the waterfront in the North End of Kelowna’s downtown.

Willingdon Lands features 21 highrises ranging from 14 to 25 storeys, plus lower buildings, a 450,000 square foot film studio and 5,239 housing units.

It’s a joint development with Aquilini Development (the Aquilini family owns the Vancouver Canucks hockey team), the Musqueam Indian Band and Tsleil-Waututh Nation.

“Led by the Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh Nations, the site will prominently feature the Nations’ traditional and contemporary cultures, architecture and stories,” states a City of Burnaby booklet. “This will be demonstrated on the site through a central cultural and community space as well as in all gathering places, public art, and landscape architecture.”

A key element will be a 450,000 square foot film studio that will contribute to the more than 3,000 full-time jobs on the site.

The land is now mostly used for parking, fields and low-rise housing. It is near the site of the former Cascades Drive-In, Canada’s first drive-in theatre, according to the City of Burnaby documents. It ran from 1946 to 1980 before being replaced by housing.

This shows the location of the Willingdon Lands.
This shows the location of the Willingdon Lands.
Image Credit: Submitted/City of Burnaby

There will be 135,000 square feet of commercial space, with is equivalent in total size to the old Costco building in Kelowna.

The residential towers will include 278 affordable rental units, 101 moderate rental units and 554 market rental units. The rest, 4,366 units, will be leasehold strata units, meaning condos where the land is leased.

The planning process started with the city in 2017 and was given first reading approval by Burnaby’s city council on May 31. It will return to council for second reading on June 20.

The planning process on Kelowna’s Tolko site began in July 2021 after the mill closed in September 2019. If the timing is similar to the Willingdon Lands, it will take until 2026 for that plan to go to council.

READ MORE: Kelowna moving quickly to plan redevelopment of Tolko mill site on Okanagan Lake

That’s not the time frame being looked at in Kelowna. The concept plan for both the mill site and a separate plan for the entire North End of downtown Kelowna are expected to be made public this fall with final plans completed next spring.

“We will prepare concept plan(s) that provide high-level direction for potential land use and housing, parks and public spaces, recreational and cultural facilities and transportation and utility scenarios,” says the website. “Multiple concept options will be developed and refined into one preferred scenario in consultation with the community.”

That website is for Holar Development, led by Dan Walsh, who is working on behalf of Tolko.

Walsh retired from Grosvenor Group in 2007 after 28 years and is a director with the UBC Properties Trust in Vancouver and “is an established and well-known real estate development industry leader,” according to the mill site web page.

 — This story was updated at 1:36 p.m. June 9, 2022, to correct information about the location of the Cascades Drive-In.

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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