Battle over Kelowna golf course hot topic for municipal election | infonews
01 August 2022 – 14:51
One issue you might hear about in Kelowna’s upcoming municipal election concerns the future of one of its golf courses. It sounds simple, but appears to have a split council and a mayoral candidate occupying an opposite position to the current one.
And it boils down to one basic question: what kind of city do they want Kelowna to become?
The battle is over the Kelowna Springs Golf Course, just north of the intersection of Highway 97 with Old Vernon Road. He could continue in this capacity indefinitely.
But a few years ago, when the town was developing a new plan to guide its future growth, the owners approached the town and requested that the golf course be listed in the plan as future commercial or industrial land.
It is bordered on two sides by industrial land.
READ MORE: Tom Dyas wants to fill the gaps in Kelowna’s boom by becoming its next mayor
The new plan was adopted last winter and Kelowna Springs has been identified as a future industrial site.
On Monday, city staff defended their decision that it would be industrial because the city — along with many other inland towns — lacks industrial land. A 2018 City of Kelowna study estimated that 236 acres of industrial land would be needed by 2040.
“Since this study was completed, demand for industrial land has remained high with prices rising,” the staff report said. “Areas like the airport business park will potentially see full construction in the next two to three years and smaller sites along Highway 97 are being explored for industrial uses.”
This means that the 106.5-acre Kelowna Springs site is perfectly suited to help meet this demand.
But Monday Con. Luke Stack admitted the significance of this new designation slipped in by him when drawing up the new plan. In a prepared written speech to council this week, he asked council to reconsider its earlier decision, pointing out that a number of golf courses have been lost over the years.
The publicly owned Central Golf Course is where Walmart and Home Depot now sit, he noted.
Fairview in the Mission area is now covered with homes and a school. The city purchased Shadow Ridge for future Kelowna Airport expansion.
Four of the seven elected officials present at Monday’s meeting supported Stack’s motion to return the land to “private recreational”. They argued that while industrial land is important, there are potentially other places for it. They said tourism is also an important economic consideration, as is recreation and environmental protection by not uprooting all trees and protecting groundwater and natural springs.
Stack pointed to a recent citizen survey that showed residents perceived a declining quality of life in the city, including the loss of attractions like golf courses.
Basran was adamantly opposed, making a campaign-style defense of his position.
“One of the reasons I ran for mayor was because so many friends left because there were no job opportunities for them, not because they couldn’t find a place to play golf,” he said. “It has already been said many times that we need industrial land. We are all concerned about the environment. But, is it OK to push industrial land further away from our community when we know greenhouse gases are the biggest contributor to climate change? »
READ MORE: Kelowna residents more concerned about crime than before COVID pandemic: poll
He also disagreed with the suggestion that it fuels a decline in quality of life.
“I believe people’s quality of life is going down because of things like inflation,” Basran said. “Now they have to decide whether to buy gas or food for the week. I know a way to solve this problem by offering well-paying jobs, all year round.
He added that the owner of the premises continued industrial activities and that it would not be fair to change it again.
Stack and count. Mohini Singh, Charlie Hodge and Maxine DeHart voted to reconsider while Basran and Couns. Loyal Wooldridge and Ryan Donn voted to leave it industrial. Com. Brad Sieben recused himself due to a dispute and Coun. Gail Given was absent.
READ MORE: Kelowna and Kamloops among three fastest growing major Canadian cities, new census data shows
This sets up an interesting vote when he returns to the board table.
From the outside, mayoral candidate Tom Dyas pounced on the issue. He wants to “save” Kelowna Springs.
“Leadership is about making tough choices and while we must plan for the growth Kelowna is experiencing, we must be extremely thoughtful so as not to erode the amenities and lifestyles that have led people to call Kelowna home by first place. said Dyas in his press release. “While significant change is to be expected in a growing city, it’s important that we never lose sight of why people choose to live here in the first place.”
At its heart, the question is what Kelowna is going to be – a city that values good jobs and a diverse economy, or a city that cares more about lifestyle and the environment.
Stack’s motion to designate Kelowna Springs as “private recreational” is expected to come back to council before the Oct. 15 election, City Clerk Stephen Fleming said in an email to iNFOnews.ca.
This means that a final decision will likely be made before Dyas, if he becomes mayor, will have to fight at the council table to save him.
We appreciate your comments and opinions on our stories, but play well. We will not censor or delete comments unless they contain off-topic statements or links, unnecessary vulgarity, false facts, spam or obviously fake profiles. If you have any concerns about what you see in the comments, email the editor in the link above.
News from © iNFOnews, 2022