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City needs to be "creative" to establish new city center parks

No new taxes for parks

If Kelowna is to adhere to the principles of the Imagine Kelowna vision when it comes to parkland, it will have to get creative.

That was the general consensus around the city council table Monday afternoon.

A hectare of land in the city's downtown core is nine times the cost of the same suburban land according to parks and building planning manager Robert Parlane.

It was a number most were unwilling to entertain.

After hitting the development community with a controversial parks acquisition development cost charge and taxpayers with an additional infrastructure tax levy, Coun. Luke Stack said residents and developers would not have stomach to cough up any more.

"I was a little bit disheartened I must admit when I read this saying, now that you've made these big, bold moves, by the way, it's nowhere near what you need if you want to build the vision," said Stack.

"I think the idea of saying we need to buy another acre of downtown to turn it into a park, for me, that boat has kind of sailed. 

"Truthfully I want to have an Imagine Kelowna Impact and vision, but I know we can't do it with dollars alone. We have to do it with creativity, looking at things in fresh ways. making the most out of each new development."

Coun. Brad Sieben suggested the city may want to look at a model similar to one in suburban areas like Kettle Valley where parks are built out as part of the development plan.

Coun. Gail Given says the current downtown parks will become overused as the city continues to densify the downtown core.

She believes the city needs to continue to look at opportunities to acquire land, but more for linear parks that connect the big citywide parks.

"At .27 per cent of what we had hoped for kind of hurts, but doing it wisely will be important," she said.

Given suggested the city get creative in how it programs parkland.

"I can look downtown and see parks that are a hunk of grass. It's a lot we bought that right now has grass and a rose garden. It has an opportunity to become more programmed, more activated, greater use on it."

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