This large piece of vacant land, between Baron Road and Springfield Road west of Leckie Road, is eyed by Costco for a new Kelowna store. Kelowna city council will decide next Tuesday whether to allow the move.

Plans for a new, larger Costco store in Kelowna, complete with its own gas bar, will go to a public hearing Dec. 8.

City council agreed to forward the plans on Monday after hearing from city staff, who support the proposed development of a larger store on a 15-acre site bounded by Springfield Road, Baron Road and Leckie Road.

City planning director Ryan Smith told council the new store - to replace the existing Costco outlet 770 metres away at Highway 97 and Highway 33 - would be 25 per cent larger than the existing store at 167,000-square-feet. 

It would have four access points, two off Baron Road and two off Leckie Road.

While some councillors said they have concerns about the additional traffic the development would generate, they said they would vote to forward the proposal to a public hearing in order to hear what residents have to say.

“I have significant concerns about the potential for more traffic,” said Coun. Charlie Hodge, adding he planned to raise them after the public hearing.

Coun. Mohini Singh said she too has concerns about traffic and said she has heard “loud and clear” from residents about that.

Smith acknowledged the traffic impact of the proposal has been “challenging.”

As part of the proposal, Costco would pay to four-lane Leckie Road, and install a full set of signal lights at the corner of Leckie Road and Parkview Crescent. The company would also pay for improvements at the intersection of Springfield Road and Leckie Road, and future improvements at Highway 97 and Leckie Road.

Coun. Brad Seiben said he is not convinced the planned improvements to surrounding roads and intersections would be sufficient, but said he plans to raise those concerns when a development permit for the project is discussed.

The property is currently zoned for agriculture, but is not in the provincial Agricultural Land Reserve and has not been farmed for decades. It is designated for development under the city’s Official Community Plan.

Smith said staff support the proposal because it is believed it will not compromise the surrounding urban centre and in future, if required, the site could be re-developed for residential development.

The site is close to several other big box stores, such as Canadian Tire, Real Canadian Superstore, Walmart and The Home Depot.

The property is owned by Victor Properties Ltd., a development company owned by the Bennett family and Costco would lease the land for its new store.

The public hearing will be held at 4 p.m. on Dec. 8 in council chambers at city hall. Because of provincial regulations limiting the number of people who can attend public meetings, the city plans to open the Kelowna Community Theatre across the street from city hall to allow more people to watch the hearing. 

Members of the public who present at the hearing are encouraged to go to the theatre after their presentation to watch the rest of proceedings.