The west end of Queensway in downtown Kelowna, overlooking Okanagan Lake, is the proposed new site of a Tourism Kelowna information centre, The Daily Courier has learned.
Detailed plans for the new location will be unveiled by the City of Kelowna next week, The Daily Courier has learned.
"I think it's a great spot," a Tourism Kelowna official said Thursday, speaking on condition of anonymity because city council has not yet reviewed and endorsed the project.
"It's still right downtown, where we always wanted to be, and it's on a site that isn't used right now for anything except a parking lot," the official said.
The base of Queensway, between Stuart Park and Kerry Park, has a small jetty where ferries used to dock before a bridge across Okanagan Lake opened in 1958.
The site could easily accommodate a 15,000-square-foot building containing a new Tourism Kelowna information centre, some commercial premises and rooms that could be rented by community groups.
Plans will show a new waterfront walkway between the building and the lakeshore, with retention of some parking in front of the proposed structure.
Pat McCormick, the city official who has been overseeing the proposed relocation of the Tourism Kelowna centre from its current premises at the corner of Highway 97 and Ellis Street, said he couldn't comment on whether Queensway is now the preferred site.
"I'm not at liberty to say," McCormick said. "There should be a report available for council next week."
A furious public backlash greeted the city's first attempt to find a new home for Tourism Kelowna in City Park, on Abbott Street between Lawrence and Leon avenues.
Critics said the proposed 15,000-square-foot building would permanently destroy too much green space and result in the dislocation of Veendam Gardens, which celebrates Kelowna's historic sister-city relationship with Veendam, Netherlands.
"Why build in the park and ruin the precious jewel of downtown Kelowna?" resident Ono Curtalo wrote in a typical letter of objection.
"I find it hard to believe the stupidity of mayor and council to even contemplate the idea of a tourist booth in City Park," resident Bob Bloomfield wrote in a similar letter to the editor.
City councillors eventually acknowledged the proposed tourist booth was by far the most unpopular aspect of a comprehensive City Park redesign.
"The feedback hasn't been good. People don't like what we proposed," Coun. Luke Stack said last August when council told staff to work with Tourism Kelowna to find an alternative site for the information centre.