Controversial 25-storey development approved in downtown Kelowna

A rendering of the proposed tower on Doyle Avenue. City of Kelowna

After a public hearing Tuesday night, Kelowna City Council approved a height variance for the development at 350 Doyle Avenue.

When Wexford Development and Appelt Properties approached the City of Kelowna they had a proposal for a 13-storey tower in Kelowna’s downtown core.

After the approval, developers sought community feedback. The design was upped to 25 stories, a design Kelowna mayor Colin Basran says, better suits the city.

“This development takes it a step further, in that it’s rental housing which we need in our community, desperately,” said Basran.

The updated design features five levels of parking, an art walk and 259 rental apartments.

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The decision sparked public backlash. The Kelowna Legacy Group raised questions about the deal’s transparency and ethics.

“We are requesting that the City of Kelowna either reject the variance application or defer the vote until after the next civic election,” said Kelowna Legacy Group member, Les Bellamy.

However, Basran says the process was done honestly.

“I appreciate if there may be concerns with the other proponents. We’ve always been transparent through this entire process about the changes, the community consultation, so I’m comfortable with where things have ended up,” Basran said.

The group also had concerns regarding the new height, which deviates from the city’s official community plan.

“An official community plan really is just a guideline,” said Basran. “It’s not set in stone, because it sets out a vision for the community for 20 years. But that doesn’t take into account for emerging technologies or specific instances where maybe something exceptional does need to be done.”

Tuesday night at the public hearing, city council approved the height variance and rezoning in a six to two vote. Basran says he’s looking forward to the future of the development.

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“The hope was for something around 13, 14 stories. We ended up with something a lot larger but at the end of the day, with a lot more community benefit and a lot better urban design.”

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