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‘Save it or pave it:’ Kelowna Springs Golf Course’s future looks industrial

On Monday, Kelowna City Council voted to keep the future land use of Kelowna Springs Golf Course designated for industrial use.

The property was identified as a “major opportunity for new industrial development” in the city's 2040 Official Community Plan.

At the end of July, council members received a report from staff about the rationale for the future land use for the property at 480 Penno Rd.

<who> Photo Credit: Kelowna Springs Golf Cose

Staff explained that it is a part of The Gateway District and would become an industrial park in the future, something that city staff say will support the local economy.

However, on July 25, councillor Luke Stack proposed an amendment to the 2040 OCP that would ensure Kelowna Springs would be designated as private recreational land.

On Monday, Aug. 22, Councillors Luke Stack, Mohini Singh, Charlie Hodge and Maxine DeHart voted in favour of the motion to change the future land use to private recreational.

Mayor Colin Basran and councillors Ryan Donn, Loyal Wooldridge and Gail Given were opposed and wanted to see the land used for an industrial park.

Councillor Brad Sieben excused himself due to a personal conflict.

<who> Photo Credit: City of Kelowna

A few reasons in support of recreational use centred on protecting green space in the city, taking steps to lessen the impacts of climate change in Kelowna and use other “under-utilized” industrial areas throughout the city.

“I remember a saying of our former mayor Walter Gray, his comment was: the public are always right,” stated councillor Stack.

“We have a choice before us regarding Kelowna Springs, we can choose to save it or pave it. I, for one, will choose to save it.”

Councillor Loyal Wooldridge countered the environmental concerns by saying that golf courses require large amounts of water and fertilizers, which tend to drain in surrounding waterways, to remain attractive.

Mayor Basran said he was in support of the industrial land use because it will provide good paying and year-round jobs so people can afford to live in Kelowna, mentioning that not all people in Kelowna can afford a round of golf at a private facility such as Kelowna Springs.

“This is a potential project that would provide $17 million in development cost charges for much needed infrastructure upgrades in that area,” added Basran.

“Not putting them on the backs of all our residents when it comes to annual taxation … To be able to have development pay for those things as opposed to continually raising taxes for our residents, that’s something that I'm going to be supporting.

Other reasons in support of industrial land use included maintaining reasonable access to industrial lands for workers and the fact that the owners had come to city council to say they couldn’t see the business surviving another 20 years.

A change to the OCP would have required a majority, or five council members, voting in favour.

This was not a rezoning, any future rezoning will be done through a different process when an application is submitted to the city.

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