This is how Kelowna could get new parks built sooner - InfoNews

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This is how Kelowna could get new parks built sooner

All the work on Rutland Centennial Park enhancements may get done sooner if a new funding formula for park development as approved in Kelowna. This is just the current phase of the project.
June 14, 2019 - 4:02 PM

KELOWNA - A new waterfront park for Kelowna’s South Pandosy district could get built well before the 2027 timeline currently set out in city plans.

That, and other park projects can be sped up if a proposal to more than double the amount of money going into city parks is adopted.

A report going to Kelowna City Council Monday outlines a number of funding sources for park development and starts the debate on whether residents and developers support the changes.

That could significantly change the timing of park developments of all sorts, including South Pandosy, which is budgeted at $3.8 million. Kelowna has dozens of bare parkland spaces but hasn't had the cash to actually develop them into useable parks. 

“That would get more funding and, potentially, we can bring that forward,” Robert Parlane, the author of the 285-page report going to council and the city’s Parks and Buildings Planning Manager, told iNFOnews.ca.

It may also mean that a new Dehart park that’s slated for 2023 at a cost of $4.5 million and further upgrades to Rutland Centennial Park that are scheduled for 2022 for $2.5 million could also be done sooner. Plus, 19 neighbourhood parks may get built in the next 10 years along with linear parks and other improvements.

There has been talk for some time about developers bearing the brunt of these costs.

Currently, developers pay $7,142 in a Parks Development Cost Charge for every housing unit they build. That money can only be used to buy land, not develop it.

Parlane’s proposal is to add another $7,346 to those fees and put it aside to actually build parks.

He’s hoping this new fee can be put in place starting in 2020, after consultation with the industry and the public.

Kelowna is one of only about two cities in B.C. that doesn’t charge these fees.

But, that’s only part of the picture.

Developers of commercial, industrial and institutional lands currently don’t pay to buy parkland.

Parlane pointed out that workers benefit from parks outside their working hours and parks are a significant attraction to tourists who stay in hotels or shop in the city. Therefore, he argued, these types of buildings should pay into the fund.

Since fees for those categories were just revised earlier this year, the city won’t be able to change them until they are reviewed again in 2021.

Taxpayers already contribute to the cost of building parks but that amount will change if Parlane’s proposal is accepted. And it won’t actually add to the tax burden.

The city created an Infrastructure Levy for this year that added 2.3 per cent to the tax rate. Parlane is proposing that 27 per cent of that new money be used to build parks.

The final piece will be revenue from parking, concessions, cell towers and rentals in parks.

One prime example he gives in his report is the Cook Street Boat Launch.

Boaters are now charged $5 to park their vehicles and trailers there for 24 hours in the summer.

That contributes very little to paying for the annual dredging needed at that site and the eventual replacement of the ramp. That means money for that work comes at the expense of other park projects.

The proposal is to boost those fees to $5 per hour and $40 for a full day and set that money aside for work at the boat launch.

If all of Parlane’s proposals are accepted, eventually the city’s budget for park acquisition and development will more than double from its current rate of $9.7 million to $21.1 million a year.


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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