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'Simply doesn't align': Kelowna council votes against McKinley Beach expansion

Kelowna City council has voted against giving early consideration to a massive expansion in McKinley Beach.

Kelowna council did not agree with beginning a study to explore a potential Official Community Plan (OCP) amendment for a proposal of 2,000 additional residential units and a mixed-use urban village on 671 acres.

Council was told that the proposal was outside of the city’s permanent growth boundary and that it departed from many of the objectives and policies in the OCP.

Early consideration is requested on applications like this to give councillors an opportunity to decide if there is enough merit to fully consider the application before a developer invests significant amounts of money into things like environmental or transportation studies

<who> Photo Credit: City of Kelowna

Ryan Smith, the city's divisional planning director, said the decision before council on Monday was not one admitting support for the project but was whether or not staff should do more work with the developers.

A previous development application, which also proposed pushing past the permanent growth boundary, was already denied by council in 2021.

Smith said staff had negotiated a large park land contribution with the previous application.

He said “there might be something worth exploring” and that staff believed “there may be some potential for both amenity and community benefit beyond this.”

Smith pointed to the future North Glenmore Growth Study, which will consider how to address the ”pressures” from the Gateway area, the airport, the UBCO area and the growth happening in Lake Country.

He said this type of proposal could contribute to that and “enhance the performance and convenience” in the McKinley Beach neighbourhood while adding additional housing and a possible connection to Highway 97.

“We do believe there are some opportunities although there certainly are some drawbacks,” Smith told council.

“Although the report does come off as a negative, we’re just trying to present a picture of what exists today from a policy perspective (while) also acknowledging that there is a future out there that may be a little bit different as the city evolves, as the region evolves.”

Kelowna City Council was not in support of giving early consideration, however.

Long-time councillor Luke Stack, who was part of the council that denied the application from three years ago, pointed to how this application is not in alignment with so many pillars under the OCP.

“Our current OCP is only two years old and we’ve worked hard at getting it to this point and it was quite a dramatic shift from earlier OCPs with the real focus on our core growth areas,” Stack said.

“I was convinced by staff and others that's really the way we should be focusing our growth and when I look at the OCP pillars in this application, it simply doesn't align.”

Coun. Stack said there were nine out of 10 of the current OCP objectives that are not in alignment with this application and that council should give the current OCP “more time” before making assessments that it is not working.

Coun. Ron Cannan shared similar thoughts.

“Directing staff to move ahead at this time would be premature and it wouldn’t be the highest and best use of staff resources,” he said.

Coun. Mohini Singh one afternoon meeting was not enough time to consider this application. She was also against early consideration.

"It's a little too much, it's a little too early. I would like to see us move up the Glenmore study so we have information to make some sound decisions," she said.

The vote against early consideration was unanimous and staff will likely close the file.

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