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Council votes in favour of UBCO tower height exemption

Click to play video: 'UBCO downtown campus one step closer to reality'
UBCO downtown campus one step closer to reality
Kelowna could see construction start on a 46-storey tower as early as this fall, after city council voted in favour of a height exemption for a new downtown University of British Columbia Okanagan campus. – Jul 27, 2022

Construction could start on a 46-storey tower as early as this fall, after Kelowna city council voted in favour of a height exemption for a new downtown University of British Columbia Okanagan campus.

A zoning change was recommended by city staff to allow for what would be Kelowna’s tallest tower. Council voted 7-1 in favour of CD28, the UBCO Downtown Campus Zone.

Despite the proposed site for the new structure at 550 Doyle Avenue being approximately a 15-minute drive from the UBCO’s main campus, Kelowna’s mayor feels the city is well equipped with public transit and bike-trail systems for students and staff to make the commute.

“This is exactly where we want to see our community growing, where we want to see higher density, and as a result of that we have corresponding plans to make sure that the infrastructure’s in place so that this fits in seamlessly,” said Colin Basran, Kelowna’s mayor.

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Basran also broke down the reasoning behind why council decided to ultimately give the project exceptional status to be built 46 storeys, after it was originally pitched to be 34 storeys.

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“One is the design, two is the environmental standard and three it’s for the people that it’s going to be attracting to our community,” Basran explained.

“We heard from the people from the UBCO that when you embed a campus into your downtown, it has a number of positive spin-offs, not only for the economy but for arts and culture and a number of different areas for our community.”

Over 30 residents were present at Tuesday’s public hearing prior to council’s vote. Some opposed to the tower shared concern about its height and location.

Mayor Basran added that he wasn’t surprised to hear from so many residents concerned about the proposed project.

“People are passionate about their city which we love and that’s the whole point of a public hearing,” Basran said.

“Its for people to come and share their ideas and their thoughts, but the really hard part about being on council is we’re a diverse group and we’ve got to come up with one decision. At the end of the day, I think we got two really great results.”

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Despite some backlash, other residents feel the UBCO tower will be beneficial to the city and its economy.

“This building for UBCO actually raises the standard for sustainability from regulatory buildings,” one man explained.

“It’s much greener than typical tall buildings.”

“I can say that if UBCO students can get more housing, then the rental market will maybe be a little bit more available,” said another woman.

Next on the agenda for the UBCO tower, is the approval of the development permit by city council, which may still take several months to get to. The university hopes construction will start as soon as this fall.

 

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