A Vision for Kelowna

Scott Henderson Client Releases

Our Community, Our Future – Kelowna Legacy Group calls on public to share their voice 

November 25, 2019 – KELOWNA, BC The Kelowna Legacy Group is comprised of a number of concerned local citizens, whose current focus is to delay or stop the sale of the former RCMP site, located at 350 Doyle Ave.; in order for a more comprehensive period of meaningful public consultation, and visioning on development possibilities for the downtown cultural district.

In an effort to communicate with the citizens of Kelowna, we are proud to announce today the completion of our new Kelowna Legacy website: https://kelownalegacy.com. We kindly ask that you refer to our website for a conceptual video outline of what could be envisioned, utilizing all four parcels of city property (former RCMP site, Kelowna Community theatre, and including the Simpson covenant lands of the City Hall Parking lot and Memorial Arena) as well as for updates on our efforts. We also request the public’s input for their ideas and feedback on the city’s short-term plan to either sell or lease this legacy parcel.

For a visual look at the Kelowna Legacy Group’s vision see the video: https://vimeo.com/375280075

The city did formulate a Civic Precinct Plan, back in 2015, and the city’s conclusion, at that time, pointed to the former RCMP site as having the greatest potential to offset land relocation costs and deliver key public amenities, in the near term, through a mixed use redevelopment; in other words, another downtown high rise condo project, with commercial space at ground level.

Included in this subject Precinct Plan, the city details their “broad cross-section of the community” engagement; which lead them to the now proposed sale of the RCMP site. However, a review of the number of participants participating in the 2015 initiative shows only a small number of citizens were engaged in their process. In total, only four stakeholder meetings were conducted, 113 people completed a survey and only 138 people attended two public information sessions.

In our minds, these modest numbers, given the population of Kelowna, indicate an inadequate endeavor to truly reflect the wider community’s interest or will.

Further, a key component of any comprehensive plan for this cultural area would be the possible consideration and addition of the Simpson Covenant lands into any future development. However, the city’s Precinct Plan specially excluded consideration of said parcels. Now that we have had early indications from the Simpson Family as to their willingness to consider a vision for a legacy project on these four properties, we are asking City Hall to reconsider their short-term plans to dispose of the RCMP parcel.

Unfortunately to date, we have not been favoured with a response to our submission to the City, prior to the RFP deadline, in late September 2019. We emphasize that our proposal was conceptual in nature, but certainly worthy of a respectful response from the City.

Granted, we have had some informal feedback from a few of the Councilors with respect to questioning how this is going to be financed, and a couple Councilors feel and have communicated that all necessary studies have been completed and there is no need to look at other considerations. There is also the question regarding the possibility of inadequate space on the City Hall parking lot based upon the design within the Colliers report, which was presented to Council November 2019. We believe that design considerations could very well accommodate the City Hall parking lot, which would allow the size of this area to be sufficient. There are many examples of larger projects, for public benefit, developed through P3s (Public Private Partnerships), such as the Okanagan Innovation Centre and Prospera Place. Through further community discussions, there is the possibility of funding this project through a P3 arrangement. We continue to ask the community for their vision and input into what we truly feel will benefit the entire community. As for the size and layout of a possible new theatre, we don’t profess to have all the answers, nor do we wish to dictate the process or outcome. We just know there is an opportunity to pause and re-engage and capture the attention of a much broader cross section of community members as well as our municipal leaders to envision what could be a world class development.

This issue is far too important to the community of Kelowna to simply let the sale or lease process proceed, thereby losing this valuable legacy property, without further comprehensive engagement, supported by current information.

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Media Contact:

Meghanne Uptigrove
dHz Media
403 880 5410
meghanne.uptigrove@dhzmedia.com

Scott Henderson
dHz Media
403 921 2001
scott.henderson@dhzmedia.com