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Garry Fawley just wants to be treated fairly.
"I can't believe city council is reconsidering the Official Community Plan in this case," said Fawley, the CEO of Vancouver-based Denciti Group, the firm that wants to redevelop Kelowna Springs Golf Course into an industrial complex.
"We just want fair play and this really isn't fair play."
In January 2022, Kelowna city council approved the Official Community Plan to the year 2040, which included an industrial designation for the 106-acres Kelowna Springs Golf Course property.
Later in the year, Coun. Luke Stack brought forward a motion that the industrial designation be rescinded to save the golf course.
The motion failed.
Denciti bought Kelowna Springs in the fall of 2022 for redevelopment assuming all would be smooth sailing.
But there was a city election also in the fall of 2022 and a new mayor and three new councillors were elected.
So, this week, Coun. Stack decided to try again to save the golf course, hoping for a different outcome with a new council.
He succeeded with council voting yes to the resolution directing city staff to bring a report back to city council to amend the Official Community Plan from industrial to private recreational for the Kelowna Springs property.
To confuse the situation, Kelowna Springs Golf Course is zoned private recreational, not industrial.
Since the Official Community Plan is a guideline for the future, the industrial designation it has in the plan is just that -- a guideline.
Denciti was always going to have to apply to have the property rezoned from private recreational to industrial in order to proceed with its redevelopment.
If and when city staff comes back to council with an amendment to the Official Community Plan it will likely go to another vote and possibly a public hearing to determine the final outcome.
In the meantime, Denciti is getting to work on trying to strike a win-win situation.
"We didn't buy a golf course, we bought industrial potential," said Fawley.
"The Official Community Plan supports industrial because there's a shortage of industrial land and for the broad needs of Kelowna it makes sense to redevelop this golf course -- which is surrounded by industrial land and is located south of the airport, near UBCO and just off Highway 97 in the gateway to the city -- in order to support needed warehousing and distribution companies and small manufactures and the 1,000 jobs they could create."
Fawley pointed out that the Robertson family, which previously owned Kelowna Springs, happily sold Denciti the property for an undisclosed premium price knowing the intention was industrial redevelopment.
"Only a small percentage of people have ever been to Kelowna Springs, there are no public walking trails and nothing happens there in the winter off-season," said Fawley.
"I think there's probably wider community support to redevelop the land, create jobs and then have some recreational component."
That recreational component will not be an 18-hole golf course, according to Fawley, but it could be year-round pickleball or something else on the land leftover after industrial redevelopment.
Stack feels he's struck a cord with the public in his quest to save Kelowna Springs because people are tired of seeing green space and golf courses disappear to development.
In his efforts to save the golf course, Stack has also mentioned saving the wetlands on site.
"There are no natural wetlands," said Fawley.
"The only water is the man-made ponds on the golf course."