Thousands of signatures collected against a wet supportive housing complex in Kelowna’s Rutland neighbourhood are giving residents hope that they might be able to stop the development.
In 15 days, the petition collected more than 14,000 signatures. Approximately 13,000 of those were from Kelowna residents.
Audra Boudreau and many other residents were under the impression that in mid-June, council had only voted on the form and character of the proposed McCurdy Road project.
“And nothing could be done about the zoning because that decision was made, the zoning was finalized two years ago,” Boudreau said.
“That is not true.”
When Boudreau recently realized council had also given fourth reading to the wet facility’s zoning in June, she was angry.
However, Boudreau later learned that because the zoning was only recently approved, council has 30 days to reconsider its decision.
The mayor could either direct for that to happen, or the motion would need to be raised and seconded by councillors.
Boudreau plans to present the petition at the afternoon council meeting on Monday and hopes council will reconsider its decision.
“I have never seen 14,000 names on a petition, even when I was a journalist covering stories, or in my role as a city councillor,” Coun. Mohini Singh said.
“That is a very, very strong message the community is sending, and it’s a message that we do have to pay attention to.”
Singh said council needs to have a heartfelt, honest discussion.
“We need to bring comfort to the people of Rutland that everything they’ve worked for, their homes, their children, all that is not going to be put at risk,” she said.
“And we also have to continue on the path that we are on to find a solution to the homeless crisis,” Singh added.
The city clerk said the McCurdy road project is not currently on the agenda for Monday, but council can agree to hear the petitioners during the meeting.
If council does vote in favour of the rarely-used reconsideration clause, the final decision on zoning likely wouldn’t be made right away but put back to a future agenda, according to city clerk Stephen Fleming.
Boudreau said that if council doesn’t reverse its decision, the petition will be presented to the legislature when it resumes sitting in the fall.