DYAS WINS: Kelowna's going to have a new mayor
October 15, 2022
Tom Dyas has unseated Colin Basran and will be Kelowna's new mayor. With all polls reporting, Dyas took 61% of the vote (21,110 votes) in a five-candidate race. His nearest competitor — Basran — took just 31% (10,821).
This will be Dyas's first time in political office, having never served as councillor.
It was second time lucky for Dyas, who was handily defeated by Basran four years ago. In 2018, Dyas collected just under 30% of the vote in losing to Basran. That was Dyas's first time running for office. His victory brings to an end Basran's 11 years on city council. He was first elected as a councillor in 2011 then as mayor in 2014.
Meanwhile, some new faces will be at the council table. Former CHBC news anchor Rick Webber and UBCO Engineering professor Gord Lovegrove, haved locked in their seats and former MP Ron Cannan returns to the council table where he started his political career. He topped the polls, followed by Loyal Wooldridge, Webber, Lovegrove, Mohini Singh, Luke Stack, Charlie Hodge and finally Maxine DeHart.
Luke Stack has made it official - he's seeking to reclaim his seat on Kelowna city council.
Stack is the longest serving city councillor, having first been elected in 2008.
He was re-elected in 2011, 2014 and 2018, topping the polls in 2014.
In a brief news release announcing his candidacy, Stack says his focus will continue to be on "expanding parks and recreation, community safety, environmental issues, affordable housing and working to maintain a high quality of life in Kelowna."
Kelowna residents will go the the polls to elect a mayor and eight councillors on Oct. 15.
To date, 49 people have picked up nomination papers for council with another 14 picking up papers for mayor.
The deadline to return completed nomination forms to city hall is Friday, Sept. 9.
Kelowna city council has thrown its enthusiastic support behind UBC Okanagan's plan for a downtown campus tower up to 46 storeys high.
If ultimately built to that height, it would not only become the tallest building in Kelowna and the tallest between the Lower Mainland and Calgary. Following a public hearing that ran a little more than three hours, council voted 7-1 to approve creation of a specialized comprehensive planning zone, CD28, with only Coun. Charlie Hodge opposed.
"I was absolutely over the hill thrilled when we found out UBC campus had an interest in coming downtown. This huge for our city and hopefully for UBCO, but I had not idea at the time that it would morph into a 46 storey development, " said Hodge who marveled at the look of the building. "I recognize down the road it probably won't seem that odd, it will be part of a developed downtown with highrises everywhere.
"I don't see this being far enough back for 46 storeys and I don't feel the timing is right." About two dozen people, most speaking out against the project, addressed council during Tuesday's public hearing.
Many spoke of safety concerns around the potential for firefighters to properly fight a fire in a 46 storey building. Others spoke about the heat island affect a building of this size would produce and other issues around climate change and the environment, while others questioned UBCO's intentions to utilize the 500 units of housing just for students and staff.
The handful speaking in favour suggested the building would be an incredible opportunity for the city in having a world-class university campus downtown, and a way to help students experiencing the housing crunch in the city.
UBCO principal and deputy vice-chancellor Lesley Cormack said the 500 units of housing would help to alleviate the student housing waiting list at the university, which has grown from 500 to 1,300 over the past two years.
Aubrey Kelly, president of the UBC Properties Trust which is funding the project told council unlike other projects of this kind which receives provincial and federal grant funding, this campus will be solely funded by the university trust.
In defending the need for 46 storeys, much of it for student housing, Kelly agreed they are trying to maximize and monetize the project. "There will be a revenue stream. We're trying to maximize residential revenue as a way to pay off the loan," said Kelly.
"We are pushing the limit." Kelly did admit rents would likely be below market value. He said only students and those involved with the university would be able to rent units within the development. In the summer when enrolment dips, the university says it hopes to rent the units out on four month contracts.
Airbnb-style short-term rentals will not be permitted.
Speaking to the numerous questions about safety within the building, Kelowna Fire Chief Travis Whiting says the fire department was part of the ;process on this application as it is with any building in the city, providing comment on code and building compliance. "Modern highrises are built to a higher standard than previous and have a lot more safety features within them that allow things like egress, smoke control and residential sprinklers that are now mandated and critical in our protection of these types of buildings," said Whiting. "We do have a number of towers in town and we do have plans in place for those buildings and will continue to pre-plan buildings like this to work within these structures.
"These new buildings don't burn the way they did 25 years ago because of the very nature of construction and the ability of fires to be contained to the unit of origin or floor of origin and give us the opportunity to manage those incidents."
In his support of the project, Coun. Luke Stack pointed to the unique nature of the building, saying the intent is to construct a "marquee building" in Kelowna with substantial design features. "We have been encouraging UBCO to come downtown for years. We've been looking for a way to bring students into our inner core and we were so excited when UBC got established but we always believed we needed to have a downtown connection," said Stack. "To finally see a downtown connection is huge for the city. I just wish it was a little less controversial because I actually think this is an amazingly good news story for our city. "It's what we need and what I have been trying to achieve for the many years I've been on council."
Coun. Brad Sieben called it a tremendous opportunity while Coun. Loyal Wooldridge called the project the future of Kelowna.
Mayor Colin Basran added the 46 storey height allowance is an exception, saying he doesn't see the city approving many more of this height.
The decision of council did produce one tense moment when Basran asked one woman to leave the council chambers after she loudly voiced her displeasure with council's comments, saying they are ruining the city.
The Doyle Avenue campus is expected to house more than 350 students within the nursing and social worker programs as well as those within programs around the art gallery. There will also be a few hundred faculty and staff within the campus on a daily basis.
A vigorous debate to convert green space into industrial property took centre stage around the city council table Monday afternoon. And, while the debate will continue for at least one more meeting - the long-term fate of Kelowna Springs Golf Course may have already been sealed. At issue for council, at the request of Coun. Luke Stack, was a land use change for the golf course to industrial in the recently adopted 2040 Official Community Plan.
The discussion around the table highlighted two critical needs in the city, more industrial land and the need to protect, and create more green space. And, while council seemed to be unanimous in the need for both, councillors were split almost equally into which should take precedence. Stack led the charge to have staff return with a "viable bylaw" to amend the OCP for the golf course property from industrial to recreational. His motion to that effect passed by a 4-3 vote with councillors DeHart, Singh and Hodge joining Stack while Mayor Basran and councillors Wooldridge and Donn opposed.
Stack, in his lengthy dissertation talked about the cumulative affect the previous or future loss of four other golf courses have had. Central Park where Walmart now sits and Fairview in the Mission which now includes housing and a school have already been lost. Shadow Ridge at the southern end of the airport is now city owned and will eventually be part of an airport expansion while Michaelbrook Ranch has been designated future park in the new OCP.
"One-by-one, they are being converted to other uses," said Stack. "Cumulatively, the loss is significant, and is now to the point that I believe it is negatively affecting the quality of life of our citizens."
He pointed to the most recent citizen survey in which most residents said they had a good quality of life, but more than half say it is getting worse, not better.
Those who sided with staff agreed industrial lands are in short supply and more is needed for a growing city economy. It was also argued that placing employment closer to the people will help reduce the amount of time people spend commuting, thus achieving the city's climate action objectives. "I'm concerned we are going to push industrial into areas that we won't necessarily need when we know this area is connected to all of the servicing that is needed," said Coun. Wooldridge. "It's sad to see green space designated this way, but it can still be used that way (golf course) until a future owner comes forward with rezoning."
Staff also reminded council it was the owners of Kelowna Springs who approached the city about a possible change in land use designation in the new OCP. The owners suggested the golf course may cease operations during the life of the 2040 OCP.
If a bylaw reverting the property to recreational use is adopted by council down the road, it would be forwarded to a public hearing for further discussion.
(Kelowna Capital News)
Calling it a “big day” for YLW, provincial Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon has announced $500,000 in funding for the airport terminal building expansion.
The money is coming from B.C.’s mass timber demonstration program.
“This project showcases what is possible when we promote innovation in the construction sector and support the development of mass timber in large infrastructure projects in B.C.,” said Kahlon during a media event at the airport on July 11.
Mayor Colin Basran noted the city expects YLW will continue to see significant increases in air traffic and passenger numbers.
“I’m confident this expansion will address that growth,” said Basran. “Using mass timber for the terminal expansion allows for flexibility for future reconfiguration.”
The airport terminal building expansion project is expected to start in 2023 and will add nearly 8,000 square metres of space. Kahlon also announced an additional $2-million for another intake of the mass timber demonstration program, which begins immediately.
A Kelowna city councillor wants to know why more than 100 acres of prime green space has been designated as future industrial land.
Coun. Luke Stack brought forth a motion Monday morning, asking staff to bring back its rationale behind changing the future land use designation of Kelowna Springs Golf Course from P3, parks and open space to industrial. The change could pave the way for the sale of the course to a developer with plans for building an industrial park on the property.
That sale, at last report, was still pending.
"I am fully aware that we need more industrial space and this is contiguous with existing (industrial), so I understand the logic," Stack told Castanet News. "But, this is 106 acres of beautiful golf course that the residents enjoy in the city, and although it is not technically city park green space, most would argue it is a very nice green environment. "I want to make sure that is the right designation as opposed to leaving it as P3, which would be public open recreation space."
Stack says he has heard from some members of the public who are not happy with the pending loss of public golf courses in the city. If Kelowna Springs does eventually sell and shut down, it would join Shadow Ridge, purchased by the city from southern expansion of the airport and Michaelbrook golf course, which is earmarked to become part of the Mission Recreation Complex.
"It is, I think, affecting what people would view as their quality of life in Kelowna as we lose some of these resources."
In the most recent citizen survey, 55 per cent of residents indicated their quality of life is not as good now as it was two or four years ago. Knowing the environment and recreation space needs to be protected, Stack says he doesn't know if the decision regarding future land use was the right one.
Stack says he brought the issue forward after coming across a city-owned golf course in the middle of Burnaby recently.
Dear Mr. Mayor and Council,
We strongly believe that a Community is only as strong as its most vulnerable. The Kelowna Gospel Mission asks you to accept this letter and petition of Gratitude for the immense work, dedication and effort being put forward by you, the Mayor, your incredible council and your planning team. Your “Journey Home” plan is one of the most comprehensive plans we have seen to date. It shows how much work and thought the City of Kelowna has put into dealing with the complex needs of its most vulnerable citizens.
While we all celebrate Kelowna’s ever growing success and the extraordinary work Mayor Basran has been doing in advocating the complex needs of our most vulnerable with the Urban Mayor’s Caucus. We also recognize that that success can come with road blocks. These obstructions include higher housing and living costs. In addition, strains have been placed on our services and infrastructure, such as healthcare, emergency services and mental health provider needs. The “Journey Home” approach seems to tackle all of the issues with short, medium and long term solutions. This ensures our most vulnerable don’t fall through the cracks.
We the workers whose job it is to care for these people would like to convey our immense gratitude to you and the council. We see, appreciate and admire the efforts you as well as BC housing are making. Your incredible efforts to find us a long term/permanent shelter, and ensure that 60 souls in desperate need are not without a warm bed, food and safety is seen. You have also shown a great deal of care for all of the 56 incredible individuals that work for and love these marginalized people.
Please continue in your exceptional endeavours and know that we as an organization are here cheering you on, praying and working tirelessly towards mutual success.
The entire team at Kelowna Gospel Mission
Kelowna Daily Courier, RON SEYMOUR
Feb 8, 2022
New homes built in Kelowna will be required to have an energized charging outlet for electric vehicles.
City councillors on Monday endorsed the idea, presented by staff as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. Council heard that requiring new homes - both single-family and parking stalls in multi-family developments - to have energized EV outlets would likely add up to $1,500 to the cost of a new house.
"This will increase the cost of development," Coun Luke Stack said. "That's just one of the realities. "I'm always struggling with something like this," he said. "We want to do something right one way, which is to reduce our greenhouse gases, but it has a negative impact on the cost of housing, which is another thing we're concerned about. "So we're always trying to wriggle down that middle," Stack said.
Going forward, he suggested, the city should seek to allay concerns about the additional cost to housing construction by pointing out what he said were the considerable cost savings that can come with owning an electric vehicle compared to a gas-powered one, "particularly now with the cost of gas going up." Every parking space for a new home would have to be built with a 220 volt to 240 volt outlet to facilitate charging for electric vehicles, council heard. The city predicts that 25,000 new homes will be built in Kelowna between now and 2040.
About 12% of vehicles sold in B.C. last year were zero emission vehicles. More detail on the proposal to require EV-ready outlets in new homes will be brought back to council before the necessary changes are made to city building regulations.