One of Kelowna’s busiest retail stores will soon be moving to a new, nearby location.
On Tuesday night, city council approved a request by Costco to move from its current location at the corner of Highways 33 and 97 to a vacant lot, just under a kilometre away.
Costco’s new location will be on a six-hectare property at the intersection of Leckie and Springfield roads.
The proposal includes a gas bar and warehouse that is 15,500 square metres (approximately 167,000 square feet).
Council voted 7-2 in favour of the move, which will see Costco increase in size, around 25 per cent, though the 800-metre move drew opposition from some area residents, with traffic concern being the major issue.
Still, council said yes to the proposal, stating it was important to keep Costco in Kelowna instead of potentially losing it to another community, such as West Kelowna.
“I believe it’s really quite important that we keep Costco in the central area,” said councillor Gail Given.
According to Costco, traffic was also a concern, stating it has been working with the city since 2019 on transportation improvements for the site.
In its presentation to council, Costco said the new site at Springfield, Leckie and Baron roads will impact adjacent roads, noting Saturday is its peak day, with an average of 1,581 visits that day.
Costco estimates that the new site will see an extra 177 visits, but added that the new site has better customer access.
Councillor Brad Sieben said the new site is a catch-22 regarding the traffic, but that “there are some benefits to it being in the core (of Kelowna).”
Councillor Luke Stack said “when he looks at the issues to deal with the traffic, I’ve been quite satisfied that they’ve come up with some good answers.”
Councillor Charlie Hodge voted against it, saying traffic was a concern, but that his major reason was that it gobbled up potential residential land.
“This is prime land for housing,” said Hodge. “When I look at the overhead, I see a large box retail building and a massive parking lot.
“I have a hard time looking at such a prime piece of land in that area – and councillor Stack said ‘you don’t find much land that large within our city anymore.’”
Mayor Colin Basran voted in favour, though he said his goal is to densify Kelowna and increase public transit, not vehicle traffic.
“Some of the comments that were made were certainly echoing with me, and things that I fully champion, as you well know,” said Basran.
“But, again, I think councillor Stack used the word compromise. For me, it’s balance. That’s where I’m trying to approach this.”
Basran said “by turning this down, it’s either going to move into a different municipality — where the majority of our residents are the ones who are visiting the store – or we approve in this location, in a more urban setting, where we can then work with the applicant on a transit plan for their employees.”