No support on Kelowna council for McKinley Gateway development

Council was asked to give initial consideration to the McKinley Gateway Study
Kelowna council chambers (Black Press file photo)

It's too much, too soon for Kelowna council regarding the development of the McKinley Gateway lands.

In May, Placemark Design applied to the city, on behalf of the developers, to begin planning and consultation for the remaining 671 acres in north Kelowna.

Council was asked to give initial consideration to the McKinley Gateway Study. The issue was debated at length during the Monday (July 8) meeting after Placemark representative Paul Fenske was invited to give a five-minute overview of the development.

"It is a significant opportunity for the city to not once again fall behind because you've been focused on the downtown core," Fenske said.

The project could offer missing middle residential housing, boutique retail services, natural recreation opportunities and an elementary school site, according to Placemark.

"McKinley is a course correction," Fenske explained. "Not by saying yes to development but by saying yes to a form of development, specifically a village centre."

Councillor Luke Stack pointed out McKinley Gateway doesn't fit most of the pillars in the city's Official Community Plan.

"There's, I think, nine out of 10 of our current objectives we set just two years ago are not in alignment."

There was also concern as the lands are outside the city's permanent growth boundary.

"I was part of that initial decision-making," Coun. Charlie Hodge said. "I think we need to give time to what we've already got on our plate which is a lot."

Coun. Loyal Wooldridge felt the project would perform like any other hillside development.

"It's going to be car-dependent. We'll be asked to bring bus service out there that will have to be subsidized with taxation, and most importantly it's going to have an impact on the natural environment."

Other councillors noted the possibility of the McKinley Gateway Study being done alongside the North Glenmore Sector Development Plan.

"What was brought to us today has some intriguing ideas," Coun. Rick Webber noted. "Maybe an overall study of the area would actually contribute to a good reason to go ahead with them."

The North Glenmore Plan is scheduled from 2027-2031, and Webber suggested perhaps it could be moved up.

Mayor Tom Dyas agreed.

"My hope was that this study would parallel and dovetail against the Glenmore study and advance that overall for a longer-term plan."

Giving initial consideration to the McKinley Gateway Study did not commit the city to the development, however, council voted unanimously against proceeding.

Gary Barnes

About the Author: Gary Barnes

Journalist and broadcaster for three decades.
Read more