Vernon rejects six-storey lakefront apartment development - InfoNews

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Vernon rejects six-storey lakefront apartment development

The site at 7497 Brooks Lane.
June 28, 2019 - 2:15 PM

VERNON - A six-storey lakefront apartment building slated for Okanagan Landing Road has been rejected by council.

The 19 unit, six-storey apartment building, was proposed for a site off Okanagan Landing Road but met stiff resistance from community members who voiced their concerns at a June 24 public hearing.

Following the public hearing council ultimately rejected the rezoning application the project needed to be built, with Coun. Kari Gares the only supporter of the development.

Coun. Dalvir Nahal said she thought this was the first project she'd voted against while sitting on council.

The six-storey apartment building was proposed for two adjacent lots, 7497 and 7501 Brooks Lane, just off Okanagan Landing Road, near the Strand Lakeside Resort. The application requested the land be rezoned from single residential homes to tourist commercial. The tourist commercial category would allow a building up to nine storeys on the site.

The developer proposed a six-storey, 19 unit building with 35 underground parking stalls. In accordance with City bylaws, upon rezoning, the development also would include a six-metre strip of land along the lakeshore, running the width of the lot to be turned into a public park. A public path would also be built alongside the building giving the public access to the waterfront. City staff told the meeting the public park was part of a long-term goal to create public access along the lake from Kin Beach to Paddlewheel Park.

While council heard from city staff that the rezoning and development were supported in the Official Community Plan and the 2011 Waterfront Neighbourhood Plan, nearby neighbours seemed unimpressed.

"This is going to destroy the neighbourhood," one gentleman told the council.

From a full council chamber around a dozen members of the public took their concerns to council.

While some had lived in the area for decades, others were relative newcomers and lived in nearby lakefront three-storey buildings.

"You are destroying the value of our beautiful home," one person told council.

"Who is going to maintain and police the park? Some of our public we have today we wouldn't want them walking into our backyards," another person said.

Issues with parking dominated the discussion, along with temporary rentals — 70 per cent of the building could be used for temporary rentals — and the building's height were all major concerns.

"We are building a castle in the middle of nowhere making an existing problem worse," Coun. Scott Anderson told council. "This fundamentally changes the character of the neighbourhood."

The only councillor to vote in favour of the project, Kari Gares, still said she was having a "difficult time" with the project.

Vernon Mayor Victor Cumming told the hearing he lived nearby on Okanagan Landing Road and said he thought the development was out of character.

"I find the height inappropriate for the area," he said.

Like others, the mayor said he was having a "difficult time" with the development.

After almost three hours of deliberations, council voted to reject the rezoning, therefore, quashing the development Councillor Kelly Fehr was not present and councillor Brian Quiring stepped down from the meeting citing a conflict of interest. Quiring's architecture firm has been working on the project.

— This story was corrected at 9:45 a.m. Tuesday, July 2, 2019. An earlier version of this story incorrectly used a photograph of 7449 Brooks Lane. The story also incorrectly identified the address as 4797 Brooks Lane. The correct address is 7497 Brooks Lane.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 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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