Big changes coming to downtown Kelowna
KELOWNA – It’s been a year in the making and now it’s got the green light. In a 5-2 vote, council endorsed the vision of the downtown Kelowna civic plan.
“There’s page after page of community involvement where they’ve had a chance to give input and I think we’ve captured all those ideas and come up with something to be really proud of,” says city councillor Luke Stack.
The City of Kelowna’s land use plan for the area known as the civic block will see the redevelopment of some iconic municipal buildings.
The area incorporates Clement to Queensway Avenues and Water to Ellis Streets.
READ MORE: What will happen to Kelowna’s ‘Civic Block?’
It’s the current RCMP headquarters on Doyle Avenue that would come down first and kick start the civic block plan.
“The new police building on Clement is scheduled to be completed in, I believe, spring or fall of 2017,” says planner specialist Ross Soward.
Unanswered questions regarding the RCMP site led councillor Brad Sieben to vote against the plan.
“We are moving very quickly on that one. According to the plan for 2016/2017 we are to go to the public for expressions of interest in mixed use residential commercial development,” says Sieben.
“It’s a good notion; my question is just did we explore everything for the RCMP site.”
Also in the 5-10 year short-term vision is the next phase of the art walk and an enhanced pedestrian environment along Doyle Avenue.
Included in the long-term 10–25 year plan is the redevelopment of two aging buildings reaching the end of their optimal life span. That includes the Kelowna Community Theatre, which will become a performing arts centre. The Memorial Arena site will be used for future civic use.
While council has endorsed the vision of the plan, how it’s going to be funded has yet to be determined.
“We haven’t got a financial plan for this,” says Stack.
“This is one way of saying our downtown is planned, we know how we want it to grow and when an opportunity presents itself, we can then jump at it.”
The final plan is expected to include zoning for more than 200 affordable housing units, up to 550 other housing units and 75,000 square feet of commercial space.
“The nice thing about knowing what the future is going to be — even though it’s general — people can look at that and say, ‘I would like to be located there or perhaps do some residential housing there,’” says Stack.