The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and the restriction on public gatherings that it has created, means the City of Kelowna will announce the winners of this year’s 46th annual Civic and Community Awards in a different way this year.

Instead of the traditional gala at the Kelowna Community Theatre, the city plans to announce recipients, including Citizen of the Year, during city council meetings over a three-week period in April.

The council meetings are livestreamed on the city’s website kelowna.ca.

Videos announcing the nominees will be released one week before the announcement of each group of winners.

“While this year’s awards will look different, they will still recognize and celebrate the many outstanding individuals and organizations that have shown excellence and resiliency through a challenging year,” says a report going to council on Monday.

The time line for presenting the 2020 civic and community award nominees and winners is:

— Honour in the Arts, Youth Honour in the Arts, Coach/Administrator of the Year — nominee videos released April 6 and the winners announced April 12.

— Champion of the Environment, Corporate Community of the Year, Volunteer Organization of the Year - nominee videos released April 13 and winners announced April 19

— Youth Citizen of the Year, Citizen of the Year and the Anita Tozer Memorial Award recipient — nominee videos released April 20 and winners announced April 26.

A total of 13 awards in eight categories will be announced at the three council meetings.

Also planned for Monday’s council meting is a presentation by Summerhill Pyramid Winery owner Stephen Cipes, who wants to build a cooking school at his winery in the Mission.

The Culinary College for Humanity, as it is being called, would be housed in five storeys to be built on top of an existing wine production and warehouse facility at he winery.

It would house a large commercial kitchen, classrooms, offices, and wine tasting rooms, as well as a First Nations cultural space and conference centre. There would be a total of 150 rooms.

City staff say while the proposal does not meet the city’s objectives in preserving agricultural lands, it is considered unique and there are few comparables anywhere in Canada.

In addition to city support, the proposal would require approval from the provincial Agricultural Land Commission.

The building would be located on the winery property just off Chute Lake Road.

Cipes was to have made his presentation last week to council via video link, but technical problems prevented that.

At the meeting, council will also be asked to reject a proposal for a facility to produce edible cannabis products on Vaughan Avenue in Kelowna’s North End.

City staff say the proposed building would be too close to eight other buildings.

The city requires cannabis production facilities to be at least 60 metres from any lot with a residential buildings on it. The proposed facility, to go on three lots at 889 Vaughan Avenue and 880 and 890 Clement Avenue would be just 30 metres from properties where residential is the primary use.

“Additionally, seven properties that have a residential use as a principle use are located within 60 metres,” says the staff report.

And, hot on the heels of a report to council about the state of housing in Kelowna last week, council will be asked to send a proposal to rezone as many as 70 properties in the area around Kelonwa General Hospital to allow for the construction of four-plexes to a public hearing.

The properties are on Aberdeen, Burnett and Woodlawn Streets, as well as Glenwood Avenue, and could be used for infill development, say city staff.

The change could allow the building of four-plexes on smaller lots in that area of the city if council approves the change.

“The RU7 zone was designed to better accommodate a diversity of housing forms, better known as ‘missing middle’ housing in areas of the urban core that had previously accommodated only single and two unit housing,” says the staff report.

Meanwhile, council will also look at renewing its partnership with Kelowna Tourism to allow he latter to collect the three percent Municipal and Regional District Tax on sales of accommodation in the city.

An application to the province to allow the tax to continue will be submitted by Jan, 1, 2022.

In Kelowna, tourism is an important part of the local economy. Approximately 1.8 million visitors contribute direct spending of $443 million, which in turn supports more than 12,000 jobs and a total economic output of $2.1 billion, says city hall.

Prior to the pandemic, the hotel room tax brought in more than $3.5 million for Kelowna Tourism, which it uses to promote the city worldwide as a tourist and convention destination. But the pandemic hit the hospitality sector in Kelowna hard last year and hotel revenue decreased to $2.2 million from January to October in 2020.

According to the city, MRDT revenues are a significant source of funding for Tourism Kelowna services, representing approximately 67% of its total revenues in a standard operating year.

MRDT revenues are supplemented by an annual grant from the City of Kelowna.