Kelowna's Costco is on the move.
City council gave approval Tuesday for the big-box discount store to relocate from its current location at the corner of Highway 97 and Highway 33 to a vacant property, 750 metres away, bounded by Springfield Road, Leckie Road, and Baron Road.
In a 7-2 vote, council praised the $2 million worth of road improvements they said would lessen traffic concerns associated with the relocation, and described the new site as a suitable for a larger Costco.
"I believe it's really quite important we keep Costco in the central area," said Coun. Gail Given, suggesting a further-out location would increase vehicle usage and contribute to the production of more greenhouse gases.
"There are some benefits to Costco being in a core area," agreed Coun. Brad Sieben.
The new Costco will be about 25% larger than the current store, and it will include a gasbar.
There are few available 15-acre properties in built-up areas Kelowna that are large enough to support a larger Costco, Coun. Luke Stack said, though he added he would have preferred to see the site in question used for medium- and high-density residential purposes.
"In my mind, this site is not perfect, but I really can't see a better alternative if the city wants to retain this commercial operation in a central location," Stack said. "Really, in my mind, it's a compromise."
If council rejected the proposed location, Mayor Colin Basran said, Costco would likely have moved its business to a fringe area of Kelowna or to the Westside. Either option would have contributed to "commercial sprawl", Basran said, putting more stress on the road network and causing Costco shoppers to drive longer distances.
The only councillors opposed to the necessary rezoning were Loyal Wooldridge and Charlie Hodge. Despite the planned road improvements, Hodge predicted the relocation would result in a traffic situation that was a "bit of a nightmare", and he said the land in question should be reserved for housing.
"This is not the best use of land in a community that is rapidly running out of land for housing," Hodge said.
Pending the receipt of other expected city approvals now that the rezoning has been granted, Costco could have the new store open by this fall, council heard