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Permits issued for 192-unit building on corner of Gordon Drive, Lawrence Avenue

On Tuesday, Kelowna council voted in favour of a proposed 192 unit apartment complex, which would be located at the corner of Gordon Drive and Lawrence Avenue.

The applicant, Vancouver-based PC Urban Holdings, is seeking a rental-only sub-zone address to the property to construct a long-term rental building and a childcare centre with 50 spaces.

The project would be six-storeys tall and would sit atop a two level parkade, which would have 213 parking stalls. Twenty-eight of these would be dedicated to the daycare and visitors.

According to design plans, there would be 91 one-bedroom apartments, 74 two-bedrooms and 27 three-bedrooms. There would be a mix of apartments and a few townhomes on the ground floor.

The complex will feature a large outdoor amenity space located on the second floor which would include a community garden, a barbecue and dining area, a fire pit and an indoor gym.

<who> Photo Credit: PC Urban Planning

A few variances to site coverage, front, flanking, side and rear yard setbacks as well as the setback requirements for the corner lot are included in this proposal.

The developer is looking to increase the site coverage from 75% to 83.9% and 85% to 86.4%. In addition, they want to reduce the front, flanking and side yard setbacks to zero and 0.2 metres.

They are also seeking approval to cut the rear yard stepback from six m to three m.

Planning staff said these variances are the result of new regulations in the city's new zoning bylaw which came into effect when the project was “in stream.”

“Overall, the project meets the majority of OCP design guidelines,” said planning staff.

“There is a strong relationship to the street at the pedestrian level through the use of the day care space and the townhomes flanking the parkade. There was a fair amount of building articulation … Additionally, a strong corner prominence was a key component of the design.”

<who> Photo Credit: City of Kelowna </who> A view of the northwest side of the building.

One member of the public, who lives across the street from the project site, said he was not opposed to the project in principle. However, he voiced disappointment in Kelowna council arranging a public hearing so late in the process, before third reading.

“At the end of November of 2021, the provincial government did change the legislation. If a zoning application is consistent with the official community plan, a public hearing is optional and up to council,” explained Stephen Fleming, the city clerk.

“Where those applications were consistent, there was not a recommendation from staff to send it to public hearing. It was council’s discretion to.”

The man also criticized the setback of the building, which will essentially be right on Gordon Drive.

“I look out my window at where this building will be and the sidewalk has people in wheelchairs. People in the Legacy building have wheelchairs, we have bicycles and e-bikes on the sidewalk because people do not want to bike on Gordon Drive,” said the man, who also had issues with the lack of parking availability.

<who> Photo Credit: City of Kelowna </who> A view of the southwest side of the building.

Another member of the public spoke highly of the proposed daycare centre, which he said will benefit many families in the downtown area.

Coun. Gord Lovegrove praised that developer for making an effort to keep the trees on site, providing greenery in the outdoor amenity space and taking the time to keep a daycare centre on the property.

Coun. Ron Cannan shared concern about the width of the sidewalk on Gordon Drive, given that the property will have a narrow setback from the road. However, staff said the sidewalks met the city’s bylaw requirements.

Ultimately, council voted unanimously to issue the development permits for the project. Coun. Charlie Hodge excused himself due to a personal conflict, given that he lives in the area.

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