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VIDEO: Mayor embraces West Kelowna's preferred growth concept, high-rises and all

West Kelowna Council is working on a blueprint for the future that includes new commercial activity in neighbourhoods, six-storey buildings in the Boucherie area, and 12-storey high-rises in downtown Westbank.

"They're coming," said Mayor Gord Milsom.

The mayor is referring to the 12 thousand new residents expected to arrive in the community over the next 20 years.

"So how are we going to accommodate that growth," asked Milsom.

Council believes the answer will be somewhere in the direction set by the preferred growth strategy that will soon become part of the Official Community Plan.

Earlier this week, when KelownaNow asked people in downtown Westbank about the prospect of 12 storey buildings, almost everyone was opposed.

Many people would rather the community stay as it is.

"I can understand that. I can appreciate that. But we're growing," said Milsom.

"Change is difficult to accept," he continued. "I think a lot of people would recognize that smart growth is the way to go. Building up instead of out. I mean there's only so much land to develop."

He said engagement with the public has shown a desire for more multiple-family housing because of its relative affordability.

"A lot of people would like their children and grandchildren to stay in this area," explained Milsom. "And it's very difficult for them to buy a single-family home."

The Mayor also reminds people that none of this will happen immediately, and the public will have lots of opportunities to help shape the city's development along the way.

"You're not going to see a 12-storey building go up there tomorrow," said Milsom. "But if it's agreeable with the public that this is the way we should go, three, four, five years from now, we may see that."

The public will have a chance to review the preferred growth concept in a future public consultation process which starts in the New Year.

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