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

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Journey Home Task Force Report on How to help the Homeless

Capital News: May 9, 2018

2018 Journey Home

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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Beacon to the Future

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State of the City - 2018

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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. 

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Top 10 - Kelowna Daily Courier Jan 13, 2018

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

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Low Vacancy Rates Continue to Challenge Kelowna

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

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New and Improved Stuart Ice rink Heater

I am really pleased that this new gas heater will warm everyone up at Stuart Park this winter. Thanks to our City staff for taking the initiative. 2017 Heater

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Kelowna's China Town (Lawrence and Leon)

One of the speakers at Saturday's event was Tun Wong, a longtime Kelowna resident who was born in Chinatown, which used to be enclosed by Harvey and Leon avenues and Abbott and Water Streets. Wong's mother, who was born in China, moved to Kelowna as a child in 1929 and raised Wong and his 10 siblings in Chinatown. “I've tried for years to try and get a plaque or a sign to designate Kelowna's Chinatown to honour its past residents and the sufferings they went through,” Wong said Saturday. “This sign has far exceeded what I ever had in mind.” The last of the buildings in Kelowna's Chinatown were demolished in the 1970s, but the new sign will preserve this history for generations to come.

The sign was designed by Arthur Lo, a retired Kelowna art teacher who sketched the design in 30 minutes during an Okanagan Chinese Canadian Association meeting in 2015.

After two years of planning, the sign was finally installed Friday.

The $32,000 sign was funded in equal parts by the Okanagan Chinese Canadian Association, the City of Kelowna through the federal government's Canada 150 grant and the Central Okanagan Foundation.

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Developer to get a second chance

2017 Greensquare

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Kelowna Fire Department Graduation

2017 Fire fighters

Congratulations to Kelowna's newest recuits. These men and women are joining the Kelowna Fire Department. Today they participated in a ceremony marking the completion of their training. Each was awarded an official hat to mark the transition.  Chief Whiting,and all in attendance, were proud to welcome them to the Kelowna Fire Department as both Fire Fighters and Dispatchers.  

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Prepared to lose votes

'Prepared to lose votes'

"I am prepared to lose votes, I am prepared to lose friends, because I believe that this is what's best for our community.

"I will stand up for that, and I will look anyone in the eye in regards to that because that is what is best for our community."

With that, Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran cast the final affirmative vote as city council approved rezoning and OCP amendments for a four-storey supportive housing project in Rutland for men recovering from addictions.

The vote was 6-3 in favour, with councillors Charlie Hodge, Brad Sieben and Mohini Singh voting against.

"I want to thank my council colleagues for supporting this, because that has taken a lot of political courage for you to do that in light of all of the things that have been said here tonight," added Basran.

A lot was said during an emotionally charged public hearing attended by upwards of 300 people who packed council chambers and spilled out into the foyer Tuesday night.

Sixty people took to the microphone to say their piece, 35 of those against the project at McCurdy and Rutland roads, many of whom live in the neighbourhood.

Some noted there are four schools within a short distance of the apartment building, while others said they are concerned for their children's safety with "those people" around.

One resident who lives next to the property said nobody wants this in their neighbourhood and that the project was getting shoved down their throats.

Others told individual councillors if anything happens, "it's on their head."

Several of those who spoke in favour have a direct connection with Freedom's Door, the recovery house that will operate the facility. They applauded the program and the men who voluntarily enter it.

They stated the men wanted to clean up and stay sober.

While most people spoke about the program's clients in a positive or negative light, it was zoning and land use, not occupancy, that council had to decide.

Coun. Luke Stack said he had no issue with the location or the size, saying it makes sense to him. But, he did read an email that challenged him to make a decision.

"If you can look me in the eye and honestly tell me you would be OK with this building right in the path of your children or your grandchildren, then go ahead and pass it," Stack read.

"I reflected on that, and I can honestly say I can look this woman in the eye and say I am OK with this."

The three who voted against felt the building is not in the right location.

Sieben called this the most difficult decision he has encountered on council.

He said the project is part of the solution, not the problem, adding the city has a lot of drug issues that lead to crime.

While those in the gallery were vehemently opposed, councillors pointed to the Cardington Apartments on St. Paul and a NOW Canada complex on Tutt Street across from Raymer Elementary.

There was strong opposition to both and, by all accounts, there have been no issues at either.

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Historic Surtees' Property gets new life

2017 Sutees gets new life

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102 Day Emergency

From Castanet By Wayne Moore

August 15, 2017

It's been 102 days – and counting. That's how long the Central Okanagan Emergency Operations Centre has been up and running since floods first hit the region in early May.

Kelowna Coun. Luke Stack, sitting in as acting mayor Monday, took the opportunity to thank those who have put in time at the EOC to ensure residents are safe. "They have been doing double duty, as many have been seconded from their regular daily work to take on additional responsibility within the EOC," said Stack. "These folks, for those who don't know, are doing their regular job, and manning the Emergency Operations Centre."

The EOC was activated on May 5 after heavy rains the night before, combined with snowmelt, caused massive flooding throughout the region.The centre also pulled double duty last month after a wildfire in Okanagan Centre displaced hundreds and destroyed eight homes.

Kelowna city manager Ron Mattiussi, who helps oversee the centre, says the real story within those walls is the fact it's been a regional approach. "If you walked into the EOC on any given day, there would be a communication person from Kelowna, or Westbank First Nation, or West Kelowna and an engineer from Peachland," said Mattiussi. "It really was the strength that we could call upon the whole region, and the whole region responded by sending people who were pretty busy, to fill in."

Stack said everyone looks forward to the day when the EOC can be decommissioned, "and our lives can return to normal." While the flood danger has passed, the EOC will remain operational until cleanup is complete.

 

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RCMP Get a new Home

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(Castanet) Kelowna RCMP officers marched through downtown streets to their new headquarters, Tuesday. Dozens of passers-by stopped to take in the parade of Mounties in red serge, auxiliary constables, RCMP volunteers and civilian staff from the regional detachment area.

"This is a really big deal for our community. Most importantly, this will allow the RCMP to do their jobs more efficiently and make our community safer," said Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran. 

"It's a very proud moment for myself and the other employees of our building to move into such a state of the art facility. This is the first opportunity I have been able to work in a new detachment," said said Supt. Brent Mundle. "The citizens of Kelowna and the city council have done an outstanding job at providing us with a professional building to do police services from.

"I am pleased to have played a small part in securing this new building for the RCMP."  Luke Stack

Pictured below L-R C/Supt. Brad Haugli; Councillor Maxine Dehart, District Commander Brenda Butterworth-Carr and Councillor Luke Stack.

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MOU signed with Westbank First Nation

The Regional District of the Central Okanagan and the Westbank First Nation signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the protection and conservation of cultural heritage sites in the Regional Parks. Pictured here is Chair Given and Chief Roxanne Lindley signing the official documents. This is another important step on our journey of reconciliation with indiginous people in our region. I was honored to be a Board member of the Regional District and support this important initiative. (Picture taken at Two Eagles resort)

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New Infill Housing

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