McKinley Beach

Although he has the power to do so, Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran says he's not currently contemplating asking council to vote again on a controversial land swap with the developers of McKinley Beach. The plan was defeated 4-4 in a tie vote last month.

Kelowna's second-largest municipal park could be created around McKinley Reservoir.

The developers of the McKinley Beach community are willing to give the city 246 acres of land around the reservoir, west of Glenmore Road.

In exchange, they're asking that approximately 350 acres of land they own that's currently not slated for development be opened for new housing.

But no new units, above the 1,300 already approved for McKinley Beach, are envisioned.

Instead, the land that's proposed for housing would support the construction of single-family homes and ground-oriented townhouses, the type of housing that's currently most popular among buyers in the area.

"What they're proposing is a density transfer," Dean Strachan, a city planner, said Thursday in an interview. "It gives them more land to develop the number of units they already have approval for."

About 550 homes have already been built so far in the McKinley Beach area under a development plan approved by the city in 2014.

Those plans show a large number of multi-family buildings still to be built in the so-called Hilltown area of McKinley Beach. But the developer says there is more market demand for single-family homes and townhomes, which require more land.

"They're offering the 246 acres as parkland to the city as an incentive to get the rezoning of the other land that they're asking for," Strachan said.

Some might perceive the proposal as an example of additional development in an outlying area, a form of construction the city is trying to curb in favour of more housing in established urban areas, Strachan acknowledges.

But he notes the total build-out of homes remains the same, at 1,300, and the proposed housing areas would draw on infrastructure - such as roads and sewer lines - that are already constructed at McKinley Beach.

"It would be an increase in the geographical area that's going to have the density already approved, but it's not an expansion of the housing unit count," Strachan said.

At 246 acres, the proposed new city park around McKinley Landing would be second in size only to Knox Mountain, which covers 766 acres.

In addition, the developer would also eventually transfer to the city approximately 112 acres for park and open space within  the land opened for development, should council grant the rezoning.

There is currently no date for when council will consider the matter.