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Queensway tourist booth gains support

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Maxine DeHart doesn't think the west end of Queensway is a good place for a new Tourism Kelowna information centre.
"It's the perfect place," the Kelowna city councillor said Monday, echoing the sentiment of the rest of council.
At their regular council meeting, the civic leaders agreed with a staff report stating the best place for the centre would be the parking lot at the end of Queensway.
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 the 15,000-square-foot building containing a new Tourism Kelowna information centre, some commercial premises and rooms that could be rented by community groups.
Coun. Colin Basran, who is council's tourism board alternate, said the centre needs to be where the tourists are.
"When I go to a new city, the first place I go is downtown. That's where all the action is," said Basran.
An earlier plan called for information centre to be located in City Park, a move that prompted many to express outrage at the impact the proposed building and connecting road would have on the downtown green space.
Critics said the proposed building would permanently destroy too much green space and result in the dislocation of Veendam Gardens, which celebrates Kelowna's sister-city relationship with Veendam, Netherlands.
Mayor Walter Gray said the new site was suggested by someone who worked in City Hall. Staff then ran with the idea and council enthusiastically endorsed the plan.
"I think it is going to be a really nice fit," said long-time Coun. Robert Hobson. "Thank goodness we found a better place than the park. It's going to replace a parking lot. We are putting a building where a building is intended to be."
Hobson said the new centre should not be too tall and be designed to complement that part of the city.
The waterfront walkway would remain and Coun. Gail Given said the building "will finish the boardwalk. The opportunity before us can really add to that property."
Council heard there is no longer a need for a tourist information centre along the highway. With the proliferation of GPS and the Internet, most people already know where they are going and the centre is best located where the people are ñ downtown.
Gray wanted to assure people their concerns over the original proposal were being heard and staff were working on a solution as soon as the public made their view clear.
One site that was never on the table was the old McDonald's site on Harvey Avenue.
Gray said the city does not own that land and would be too expensive to purchase and build on, plus the
location is not easily accessible to foot traffic.

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