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Letter: City-owned waterfront should be for park only
To the editor:
Re: Cedar Avenue Park and Pandosy Village:
The topic of these city-owned lakefront properties was tabled for discussion in Kelowna city council back in 2011 and park preservation and not commercial development were favoured.
Why is it that City of Kelowna staff are re-opening this already decided topic and trying to force this issue upon community citizens who have already provided their collective direction and input via a legitimate process? The City of Kelowna has made input options this time around very difficult by providing a user-unfriendly website to provide suggestions and with very short deadline.
My family have been residents of Cedar Avenue for almost 30 years. The City of Kelowna is again proposing a five-storey boutique hotel with no feasibility studies done.
As a resident of Cedar Avenue, my daily living experiences leave me to conclude that the Cedar Avenue area is unable to withhold any additional development of medium to high density.
The Cedar intersection at Pandosy and Lakeshore begins with an unlicensed bottle recycling location operated by a homeless man, a Shell gas station/convenience store and a 24-7 drive through McDonald’s that are all opposite to a very busy Royal Bank drive thru.
The vehicle and pedestrian traffic along Cedar, going into Abbott and Walnut streets is steady, unsafe and dangerous throughout the day and night. Even beyond feasibility studies, natural ground water levels beneath the existing heavy developments have already alerted current owners and geotechnical experts to be aware of ongoing settlement and damages happening west of Pandosy Street. Any future oversized development east or west of Abbott Street poses significant challenges.
Recently, a Cedar Avenue charrette was facilitated. In my opinion this charrette was flawed. I attended the open house on Feb. 27 and visited City Hall March 5 where the models generated by charrette participants were announced by City of Kelowna to be on display for community viewing.
The original models 1-4 were nowhere to be seen other than a photo of each model and what was in fact on the city display table were refined models #1 and #4.
To some small degree there is some focus in most of the models towards designating our community-owned lakefront properties as park space, but not enough emphasis. The lakefront properties must all be preserved as park including those to the south of Cedar Avenue.
Unfortunately, the charrette process demonstrated the significant error of skipping over the discussion that should have been focused entirely on the lakefront park space and instead entered into of building of medium density commercial and residential units on privately owned and residential zoned properties east of Abbott Street between Cedar and Groves avenues.
Many of the charrette participants are evidently people who have significant profit to gain by diverting the conversation from the lakefront park to the area across the street from the park. This conversation is separate and the individual land owners of those residential properties must follow legal development process and not piggyback onto a forum designed to discuss the long term use of publicly acquired lands.
The discussion about the inclusion of a paddle club surprised me. Municipal and provincial procurement policy must follow a tender process as outlined on B.C. bid (see www.bcbid.gov.bc.ca).
I see it as fortuitous for the paddle club to have been handed special privileges on community owned land and then be referred to as a permanent tenant in the charrette discussion and planning. I am also mindful that many community groups and social recreation clubs might have liked the opportunity to compete for that land use space and enjoyment in an open and transparent manner.
An example of such groups might include off leash dog park enthusiasts or community gardeners. The error recently made was that a municipal decision was enacted upon to direct award a paddle club the private and exclusive use of public lakefront land. To my knowledge this decision was made between a few people and not by the community that owns that land.
Sopa Square and 436 Cedar Avenue are situated at the centre of the Pandosy Village. Both of these developments are built on designated C4 commercial property. Any development west of these two projects towards the lake should only be done based upon the current residential zoning of each of those properties. These properties include 420, 414 Cedar Avenue and 3031, 3041, 3061, 3075 and 3095 Abbott Street.
All of these properties are residential zoned and not medium density or commercial zoned.
This type of planning would then allow for a step wise in height and density model that eventually descends to the Abbott Street frontage and into the lakefront park that must be protected as green space for future generations to come.
A recently built property located at 2684 Gore St. is an excellent example of the type of residences that would permanently suit the area between Sopa Square and the future lakefront park. Areas between Pandosy and Richter are currently being heavily developed with commercial space. In that area too, any development east of Richter Street should follow a step wise design.
Pandosy Street is the center of the Pandosy village and the surrounding development should only descend down into the adjoining lakefront and residential neighbourhoods.
It is time to remind our current mayor, council and city staff that not only are each of them elected to listen to us taxpayers but they are also remunerated from our public funds.
Clearly, they are all employed on our behalf. I encourage people to provide a strong voice now without thought of reprisal from charrette groups, city staff, politicians or mayors. Let’s remind all that the debate about Cedar Avenue Lakefront Park ended years ago when community spoke directly to council about it.