To the editor:
I’m writing with my concern regarding the massive towers Monaco Project at the corner of Doyle Avenue and St. Paul Street—applying to city council for a development variance permit—that will consist of two towers of 23 storeys and 26 storeys in exchange for the developer, Premier Properties, paying the City of Kelowna a $1.3 million amenity in return for being allowed to exceed the 14-storey limit included in the downtown plan, which was only recently endorsed by city council.
Shelley Gambacort, the city’s land use management director, has stated of that $1.3 million payment, that $260,000 would go to the Affordable House Reserve and $1.04 million to the Downtown Amenity Zone Fund.
I understand that her staff for both variance permits sought by Premier Properties remains non-supportive of this offer.
According to the development variance rules, a variance can’t vary the land use or density (increase in height of building is included in this rule).
In reviewing a variance application, council must consider the probability of possible “precedence being set,” allowing any future developers to “barter” with city council by offering large monetary payments for any future variance requests even if they contravene the downtown plan restriction of a 14-storey maximum building height. What is the use of having rules and planning committees if they are able to be bypassed with money?
These development variance permit applications also don’t go to an official public hearing. They are heard at a council regular meeting where there is a minimal opportunity for public input.
The decision by our present city council and mayor to even consider reviewing this developer’s application after tabling it last year, now that the developer is willing to “up the payout,” is totally unacceptable to me as a taxpayer and honest citizen of Kelowna.
This type of business is unethical and powerful—soon Kelowna development will be run by the “big developers” who can afford to offer millions to get what they want from city council.
Then, the whole idea of a downtown community plan will be useless.
I hope our leaders will make a wise and intelligent decision to refuse this variance to protect our future development of Kelowna.
Julie Daniels, Kelowna