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CD-21 zone may be in intensive care, but it’s not dead yet

Monday, March 1st, 2010 | 12:30 pm

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An artist's sketch of a redeveloped downtown looking west past the fire hall at the intersection of Lawrence Avenue and Water Street.

News Opinion

By John McDonald

Unencumbered now by the cone of silence imposed on them regarding the CD-21 Zone, the six council members who voted to rescind second and third reading of the bylaw are now able to speak about it.

And despite the many nasty comments from zone proponents accusing them of killing the plan, most of them repeat what they said before last Monday’s vote: “I’m not necessarily against the plan, I just want to be able to ask some questions.”

In fact, neither Mayor Sharon Shepherd or any of the councillors I managed to reach said there was an absolute, no-way, deal-breaking issue. The exception? A luxury hotel that would encroach on Kerry Park if it was built according to the current plan.

In the words of Coun. Michele Rule, who made the motion that sent the CD-21 Zone back to first reading, “If we wanted it dead, we could have voted on the fourth reading and killed it then,” she said.

Mayor Shepherd, accused by some of dithering instead of leading on this issue, was unapologetic, handcuffed as she was by the restriction that forbids council to receive any new information once a public hearing has been held. Violating that could have opened any subsequent decision to a legal challenge.

“It’s like a cloud has been lifted,” she said. “I’ve had to be very cautious. I’ve not sat down with any of the councillors and said this is what I think. I voted against the plan and listed my reasons. Unless the present councillors attended that meeting or read the minutes, they may not be aware of my concerns.”

For Shepherd, a lack of protection for what’s left of downtown Kelowna’s heritage buildings is near the top of the list. Building height is up there, and Shepherd said that could be solved by making the towers a bit thicker instead of taller.

She also wants consideration of a district energy system for the area, something Shepherd listed as one of the reasons she voted against the zone in the first place. “There was no commitment to district energy for that four-block radius,” she says. “But a consultant has brought forward new information about it and it looks like I might be able to cross it off my list.”

Veteran councillor Robert Hobson also cites heritage conservation as problematic and wants to see other development projects, not necessarily within the zone, kick in for the amenities package.

“I’m less concerned about height and density,” he says. “I’m supportive of the CD-zone concept because without it, we won’t be able to consolidate small lots which is key.”

Coun. Angela Reid said the feedback she’s getting is that the zone buildings nearest the lake are too tall, but stresses her mind remains open.

“We have an opportunity to create something quite “Kelowna” here,” she said. “Many things about it are beautiful and the amenities are gorgeous, although it seems a bit like we’re copying pieces of Vancouver or Calgary instead of creating something that really fits Kelowna.”

Far from loathing the plan, Coun. Rule said she wouldn’t mind it going a few blocks further up both Lawrence and Leon Avenues, that is if her concerns about heritage, and of course, the hotel on Kerry Park can be resolved. “That’s the deal breaker for me,” she said.

Councillors Charlie Hodge and Kevin Craig were not available, but both said during last week’s council meeting that they could support the plan with some modifications.

So far from driving a wooden stake into the heart of the CD-21 Zone, with a few adjustments, it may still have enough support on council to go ahead.


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3 Responses to “CD-21 zone may be in intensive care, but it’s not dead yet”

  1. John Zeger says:
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    I am hoping that Councillor Angela Reid provides some leadership on council for lowering the building heights in the plan as she and Mayor Shepherd are the only ones who have spoken against the heights presently there. But more importantly is prior to re-doing the details of CD-21 is to revise the Downtown Plan, which was one of the key recommendations (ignored by the previous council) of the Spaxman report.

  2. Chris says:
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    I am glad they are looking closely at how to preserve the heritage buildings and reconsidering the hotel.

    The building height part is ridiculous though, I don’t really care about it either way but trying to impose your idea of what kind of building looks good on the city is asinine. I guess taller buildings will make us look like too much of a city or something?

    Keep your personal idea of what looks nice to yourself and do what’s best for Kelowna in the long run.

  3. Nicole Rustad says:
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    The City has posted the presentation it did to Council on Monday – it is excellent and explains the vision and plan well. I encourage everyone to check it out – I am solidly behind this because it truly considers all residents of Kelowna’s concerns and is a plan that has been changed many times to reflect concerns and needs.

    -Nicole Rustad

    Please continue discussion on the forum: link

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