Kelowna 27 Kilometer Paddle Trail Opens

It was with great pleasure that we opened the 27 kilometer Okanagan Paddle trail on the May long Weekend. The City of Kelowna funded $65,000 of the trail that stretches from Bertram Park in the south to McKinley Landing in the north. There are buoys all along the trail marking the distance. This water trail adds to the Kettle Valley trail, the Kelowna Rail Trail that stretches from Kelowna to Coldstream (49 Kilometers.) Kelowna is becoming the centre of spectacular active transportation trails. Bring your bike, your runners and now your Kayak to enjoy all we have to offer.  

Pictured below is the launch of the trail at Hot Sands beach on a picture perfect morning. 20180519 092659

Continue reading
  2 Hits
  0 Comments
2 Hits
0 Comments

Journey Home Task Force Report on How to help the Homeless

Capital News: May 9, 2018

2018 Journey Home

Continue reading
  45 Hits
  0 Comments
45 Hits
0 Comments

Council able to trim tax hike thanks to $2-million windfall 

Council able to trim tax hike thanks to $2-million windfall 

Kelowna Daily Courier

Ron Seymour

Apr 30, 2018

 

Last-minute additions to the City of Kelowna’s 2018 budget include four new bylaw officers, several financial analysts and the quickened development of a Rutland park.Council on Monday approved a final budget that sets a municipal tax increase of three per cent, down from the 3.6 per cent that was provisionally set last December. About $2 million worth of unexpected revenues provided the wriggle room, which was seized by councillors not only to lower the tax rate but also to fund several new initiatives worth about $1 million.

 

 “I’m really happy to see where council has landed on this budget,” Mayor Colin Basran said.

 

Kelowna’s municipal taxes are still below the level of most B.C. communities with populations in excess of 75,000, Basran said.

 The four new bylaw officers will work primarily to address social problems in the downtown area. “Not everybody who is on our streets is just down on their luck,” Basran said. “There are people doing street-level crimes who are causing problems.” Along with increased enforcement of bylaws and an enhanced policing effort, Basran said the city was committed to tackling social issues with a variety of “multi-faceted” approaches including the provision of housing. “Before we take any flak for trying to chase this problem away from one area of the community, we’re not,” Basran said.

 

A three per cent tax hike means the owner of a typical single-family home that increased in value by 16 per cent to $641,000 will pay $1,990 in municipal taxes this year, about $60 more than last year.Larger-than-expected revenues from FortisBC, more proceeds from municipal investments and reduced borrowing costs allowed for the tax hike to be trimmed.

 

“I’m happy to see it below three per cent,” Coun. Stack said, referring to the usual city practice of stretching out tax hikes to several decimal places, in this case 2.99 per cent. “I wasn’t a big fan of it being over three per cent.”

 

Rutland Centennial Park will get a further upgrade, of nearly $500,000, for expansion of a playground and landscaping improvements. Several financial analysts will be added to the municipal staff.

 

Coun. Gail Given, a member of the city’s audit committee, said the addition of the financial analysts will help ensure the city operates in the most cost-efficient way possible.

 

“Analysts equal savings, and it means the mistakes will be minimal, hopefully none,” said Coun. Maxine DeHart.

 

Continue reading
  74 Hits
  0 Comments
74 Hits
0 Comments

Capri Center Master Plan

Once burned, twice shy. That's the attitude Kelowna city council seemed to take Monday in deferring acceptance of a master plan for redevelopment of the 20-acre Capri Mall site.

The plan differed slightly, which concerned some councillors still smarting after not getting what they thought they were from the Central Green site.       

In an unprecedented, and unusual move, council not only deferred a decision on the master plan, but also gave approval for construction of the first of 14 residential buildings, a 22-storey tower, for the corner of Capri Street and Sutherland Avenue.

Council went back and forth on the merits of the revised master plan for the 20-acre site, a plan that was altered from one approved two-years ago.

Much of the issue surrounds use of the public park, and in particular, and NHL-size ice rink at the centre of the development.

Coun. Luke Stack said he was uncomfortable not knowing whether the rink would be controlled by the developer or the strata council.

"All the density we have supported here was because we were getting some public amenities, but I'm not comfortable at this point that it is a public amenity," said Stack.

"It sounds to me like it's a private amenity that they will let someone use from time to time."

Stack said the original plan had a more "inviting passageway" through the site. It showed how roads and bike paths went through the property and where the transit stops would be located.

"It looked more inviting to the public...now, I'm seeing more of a fortress type of mentality around what could be a private amenity."

Leo Mariotto, president of ICR Projects, the developer of the site, told council the master plan before them is just an evolution of the original. He said the intent is not to change any of the amenities promised two years ago.

He promised public access to the park and rink, saying the intent is for everyone to enjoy the rink, shop and go to a bar, if there is one.

"There's no question we can provide public access," he said.

As for timing, Mariotto said the plan is for the three towers along Capri Street to be built first, with the fourth and fifth towers along Sutherland Avenue to go next.

"The fourth tower would require the food store to relocate.

"Although I can't say the ice rink would start at that time, once the towers along Sutherland are built, it is logical the ice rink would then happen."

But, he said, that logic could change over five, 10 or 20 years.

Despite assurances nothing had chanced, council wanted certainty. They also wanted answers to several questions which were not forthcoming to their satisfaction.

"I have no doubt the developer is coming to us in good faith, but the thing I have is that so many questions weren't answered, I can't, in good faith, go to the public and say I did my job," said Coun. Maxine DeHart.

"This is a huge thing for use...but I just think we need some better answers."

Mayor Colin Basran, one of three on council to vote against deferral, says he likes the new plan, but understood a majority on council want some clarity before moving forward.

"With all the drawings and all the modeling, council just wants to be sure that what's being brought forward is actually what gets built, or as close to it as possible," said Basran following the meeting.

But, we have to remember too that to build this site out is going to require a lot of time. We have to recognize there are a number of things that are going to change over time like market demand, like best practices, like trends, building materials and requirements.

"While there may be an expectation from the public that what's presented should be exactly what is going to be built, but I think what was found out today was it's merely aspirational to a degree and things will evolve over time."

The developer and staff will sit down to try and bring clarity to some of the concerns before returning to council.

Continue reading
  97 Hits
  0 Comments
97 Hits
0 Comments

Castanet - "Is Cawston Growing too fast?"

A proposed condo development on Cawston Avenue near Gordon Drive in Kelowna raises red flags for one city councillor.

Coun. Luke Stack wonders if the single-family neighbourhood is ready for a five-storey building.

"When you go up and down the block at the moment, it is very, very low-structured housing. Typically one, maybe two storeys," said Stack.

"It would be a very dramatic change. It's a huge jump in height and the intensity of the housing.

"I'm a little uncomfortable moving forward ... until we really have a sense of, is this where this whole neighbourhood is going?"

Stack said he'd prefer to look at the neighbourhood as a whole "rather than taking one piece here and one piece there and doing small OCP amendments to accommodate it."

Stack did support the 30-unit condo development going to a public hearing, and looked forward to hearing from neighbours.

"Maybe the public will come back and say this is great, we need this type of housing. But, I sense we may hear push back, saying this is a dramatic change to our neighbourhood with what we had and where we're going."

The proposed development will be situated on three properties which have been consolidated for the project.

An OCP amendment was required for one of the three properties to allow the increase in height.

Continue reading
  122 Hits
  0 Comments
122 Hits
0 Comments

Is the sky the limit?

This article appeared in the Capital News. I thought it summarized the many city centre changes I have overseen in Kelowna in recent years. 

20180324 122224 

Continue reading
  209 Hits
  0 Comments
209 Hits
0 Comments

Beacon to the Future

20180223 060546

Continue reading
  322 Hits
  0 Comments
322 Hits
0 Comments

State of the City - 2018

20180126 133609

Mayor Colin Basran provided his annual speach to a "full-house" of the Chamber of Commernce on January 26, 2018. He highlighted the many good initiatives underway in the City in 2018. The economy is strong, culture is booming, and there is a high level of satisfaction with City services provided to the public. There is a sense of optimism moving forward in 2018. 

“Council understands and is reflective of our entrepreneurial city,” said Mayor Basran. “Even with all the growth we’ve experienced in recent years, we remain a diverse, small-business economy that is adept at changing with the times.” He cited the city’s ranking last autumn at the top of BMO’s annual list of the best job markets in Canada as an example of how the local economy is performing. He also noted Kelowna’s inclusion in the Smart21 Cities of the world as further evidence of a city that looks for technological and cultural innovation to improve citizens’ quality of life. His speech went on to identify a number of challenges the City is challenged with  - particularly in affordability and homelessness. 

The Chamber presented the City with this portrait of the late Gordon Downie in appreciation. 

Continue reading
  450 Hits
  0 Comments
450 Hits
0 Comments

Top 10 - Kelowna Daily Courier Jan 13, 2018

20180113 104527

This article was published in the Okanagan Weekend paper on January 13, 2018. I was pleased to be recognized. 

20180113 104548

Continue reading
  691 Hits
  0 Comments
691 Hits
0 Comments

Low Vacancy Rates Continue to Challenge Kelowna

This story was in the Capital News on November 29, 2017

20171130 rent

Continue reading
  648 Hits
  0 Comments
648 Hits
0 Comments