This is a good guide to follow in these unusual times.
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."
I was honoured to attend the induction of 8 new recruits to the Kelowna Fire Department on June 21, 2019. These fine young men and women trained very hard for this day and we welcome them to one of the finest Fire Departments in the Country. Congratulations!
Kelowna will maintain the status quo, at least for the time being, when it comes to who can, and can't use their home for Airbnb-type short-term rentals.
Following a lengthy public hearing Tuesday night, council narrowly defeated a motion that would have opened up short-term rentals in secondary suites, basement suites and carriage houses.
Council voted 4-3 to defeat the motion, with Mayor Basran and councillors Stack, Singh and Given voting against. Coun. Maxine Dehart, who works in the hotel industry recused herself from the debate, while Coun. Ryan Donn was absent.
The decision, for those who voted against opening up to carriage homes and secondary suites, came down to protecting the city's long-term rental stock, and trying to keep skyrocketing rental and home purchase prices in check.
Basran, in voting against the motion, cited two studies that he says shows short-term rentals increases rent, and increases the cost of buying a home.
"Tonight, I believe I have a decision to either perpetuate the status quo, which is to allow it to happen and allow rents to keep going up, to allow house prices to continue to rise, and for us to find other ways to help try and curb that," he said.
"Or we can continue to implement the strategies in our healthy housing strategy which is a combination of many different bylaws and ideas in order to help with affordability."
Basran said he believes the current bylaw which allows for short-term rentals in many principle residences around the city strikes a good balance.
Stack, who also voted no, says he believes opening up short-term rentals doesn't align with council's Health Housing Strategy.
"This is where the real trouble hits me, because we've been working hard to establish this long-term plan and working diligently to bring on more rental housing, and really struggling with this issue...then we are going to make a change that is going to completely go against the direction we've set," he said.
Several dozen people addressed council, speaking to both sides of the issue.
Many students at both UBCO and Okanagan College, student union reps and other renters spoke against the changes, citing the current difficulty in finding affordable accommodations.
Many homeowners, some of whom spoke at a previous public hearing two months ago, argued bad prior experiences with renters and the updated Residential Tenancy Act has put them off ever renting to long-term tenants again.
Others said they entered the short-term market as a way get extra revenue between students in the summer months.
While the issue of short-term rentals in secondary suites and carriage houses is a non-starter now, council did say it will be looked at again when the entire bylaw comes up for review in the fall of 2020.
Congratulations to the nominees for the 2019 Kelowna Civic Awards. This picture was taken with the Lady of the Lake and her Princess at the Mayor's Reception for the nominees. It took place at the Parkinson Recreation Centre on April 15, 2019. The finalists will be selected at an award ceremony on April 24th, 2019.
City of Kelowna replaces over 10,000 street lights with LEDs
Kelowna Now - Megan Trudeau -March 28, 2019
The completion of a new energy saving project is set to help Kelowna save an enormous amount of money over the next several years,
"The last time the City was able to talk about a 400% return on investment and an estimated $16 million in savings over the next 15 years was… never. However, with the recent completion of the LED street light conversion project, these numbers are now reality," said the City of Kelowna.
The project was to replace all of the City’s existing high-pressure sodium (HPS) lighting with light-emitting diode (LED) lighting.
“We did a pilot in 2016, which demonstrated significant energy savings and the potential to cut energy consumption by more than 50% while maintaining appropriate light levels and illuminations for optimal roadway lighting. In 2017, Council approved the project budget and between spring and fall 2018, more than 10,000 of the City’s street lights were replaced with LEDs," said Brydan Tollefson, Energy Program Manager, City of Kelowna.
The City and FortisBC worked closely together on the project, which cost $3.75 million to implement, but with a payback amounting to a 400% return on investment and a rebate of more than $670,000.
This is the largest rebate that FortisBC has paid out to date for an electricity-saving project. It’s expected to reduce to the City’s annual electricity us by 4.5 million kilowatt hours, which is equivalent to the annual use of 400 homes.
“We commend the City of Kelowna for the success of this project, especially their efforts to make improvements along the way and achieve even greater savings,” said James Allen, conservation and energy management program manager, FortisBC. “They really understand the value energy savings projects like this bring to their residents and we’re pleased to support them.”
Kelowna is the ninth most expensive Canadian city in which to rent an apartment – but that could change, thanks to new policies from council and new construction.
That’s the word from rentals.ca and Bullpen Research & Consulting, which conducted their March national rent report and found the average price of a one-bedroom apartment is $1,299 and $1,574 for a two-bedroom unit.
The current rental vacancy rate in Kelowna is 1.9 per cent, and all signs point to it increasing over the next two years.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation economist Taylor Pardy, who spoke in Kelowna last week at a Canadian Home Builders’ Association Central Okanagan luncheon, told rentals.ca the vacancy rate will increase because of “the volume of apartment rental units currently under construction.”
For more on this story and to see the 25 most expensive cities for rent, visit
Feb 7, 2019
Well known affordable housing advocate Luke Stack managed to run a successful re-election campaign for less than the average cost of renting a room in Kelowna.
According to Elections BC, the four-time councilor only had two donations made to his campaign for a total of $500 in contributions. Both donations were made by Stack himself. In comparison, councilor Brad Sieben had 30 donations made to his campaign for a total of $12,551 in contributions.
The financial disclosure statement reports that he spent $1,865.88, but Stack says that includes the original cost of his campaign signs that he has used for every election since 2008.
Stack credits local media, open forums and the good reputation attached to his name for the successful yet frugal campaign. However, Stack’s campaign budget was the anomaly as Kelowna’s 2018 municipal election was a pricey one for every other candidate running.
Elections BC financial statements show Mayor Colin Basran’s reelection campaign cost $76,585, coming within $200 of the financial limit for a city of Kelowna’s size. Basran’s fundraising was aided by 41 maximum donations of $1,200. Tom Dyas’ unsuccessful campaign was run for $35,726.