It was gratifying to see the prominence Managing Editor Dave Trifunov gave in his editorial Wednesday (Yes you can fight city hall, but win?) to the outlandish proposal for a hotel at 2169 Pandosy St. and Royal Ave., kitty-corner from the hospital.
This hotel, restaurant and retail complex is the height of absurdity in an established residential neighbourhood, for many reasons. The traffic alone, going through the adjacent streets (actually the back lane, which will be the only hotel access) will be intolerable for the residents. This developer has been submitting increasingly large and inappropriate proposals for at least 12 years — the 2017 one expired.
The issue of the demise of Collett Manor, a registered heritage house, has been glossed over, in part, due to the developer's erroneous claim that the house is to be conserved. What she is actually planning if you "read the fine print", is to dismantle the house, and re-assemble the facade on three sides attached to a new building. This is in no way a heritage conservation project.
The most egregious aspect is the support by the city planning department. While not surprising given recent policies it seems to have adopted, this most recent demolition, for that is what it truly is, should be a wake-up call to Kelowna citizens that heritage is under attack in our once-fair city.
Collett Manor (1913) is across the street from the eastern boundary of the Abbott Street Heritage Conservation Area. However, even if it were in ASHCA, it would be afforded no protection.
In less than the past year, the city has endorsed, or turned a blind eye to the demise of three heritage houses. 450 Cadder Ave. (Aitkens House – 1919) mysteriously "disappeared," leaving only one wall behind, and a new much larger house was built, all under a Heritage Alteration Permit — a complete misuse of this legislation, by-passing all the proper steps.
1869 Abbott Street, once again in the guise of heritage conservation, was approved to be re-located, and turned on the lot, destroying major architectural features that make this house unique. This is all in order to turn it into a commercial office with no residential component, and to build two contemporary duplexes. Again, on the corner of quiet residential streets.
409 Park Ave. (Groves House – 1907) was demolished this spring on the questionable basis that this well-built heritage house in good condition, was a hazard to public safety. (Look up the MLS listing.) Again, proper procedure was ignored, and a demolition permit issued a bit too quickly for comfort, before a new plan was approved. What's happening now? The owners have applied to subdivide the lot.
There have been many more such travesties in recent years. To what end?
I have been advised by members of council and the planning department, that their intent is to "re-think the Conservation Area." Translation: Remove the development guidelines adopted when ASHCA was created in 1998. Why? To allow commercial development to spread south of the highway "because we need it."
Also, to allow "densification", that word that makes many of us wince. The Abbott Street Heritage Conservation Area is a tiny, tiny portion of Kelowna, but one much sought after by residents and tourists alike. Tell council to leave ASHCA, and heritage alone, starting with Collett Manor.
While I'm pleased with The Daily Courier's coverage of this travesty of a development, I'm not in agreement with the editor's contention that you can't beat city hall. You can, and we have.
Citizens fought for and succeeded in getting the conservation area created in 1998, in the face of great political opposition.
In 2004, an ad hoc coalition of neighbourhood associations, business owners, and citizens at large stopped Pandosy and Richter from being turned into one-way streets, again against great political and staff opposition.
Had this small group not succeeded, the neighbourhoods adjacent to these streets would have been destroyed, and South Pandosy Village which was in its infancy would never have flourished.
It took 800 plus people to come out to the public hearing for us to succeed then, and it's possible to succeed in defeating this hotel project now! As Dr. Erica Bell-Lowther, president of Kelowna South Central Association of Neighbourhoods (KSAN) ended her recently published letter,"Come on, Kelowna public, it is time to speak up about such disastrous developments", (and heritage conservation)! There's no time like Tuesday night, June 23, to start! See you at City Hall.
Valerie Hallford, Founder and president (1998-2005), Friends and Residents of Abbott Street Heritage Conservation Area Society