Sol Aqua

A 60-home project on Campbell Road in West Kelowna, just above Okanagan Lake, was moved Tuesday by West Kelowna city council to a public hearing. But councillors were critical of the developer's plan to also include a 242-slip marina.

A greatly downsized near-waterfront development has received preliminary approval from West Kelowna city council.

The 60-home project on Campbell Road north of the Casa Loma neighbourhood replaces a multi-tower vision that had about 700 suites.

"The developer has finally come down to a scale that's appropriate for the property they want to build on," Coun. Rick de Jong said at Tuesday's meeting.

"They've made some considerable concessions from when they first brought this application to us years ago," agreed Coun. Jayson Zilkie.

Councillors agreed to send the reworked proposal to a public hearing so interested members of the community could provide their input. The previous plan, known as Blackmun Bay, generated strong local opposition and was sunk by city council.

While endorsing the residential component of the new plan, rechristened Sol Aqua, councillors indicated they were much more concerned about one aspect - a 242-slip commercial marina. It would include a winery and a parkade with a greenhouse on its roof.

Councillors were concerned about the possible environmental impact from such a large marina, as well as the disturbance posed to nearby residents. Mayor Gord Milsom suggested a comprehensive study of the impact of all marinas on Okanagan Lake should be undertaken.

"I really do think we need to sit back and take a look at the impact of commercial marinas on our lake, right from Vernon to Penticton, and do that sooner than later," Mayor Gord Milsom said.

Coun. Jayson Zilkie said most commercial marinas have long waiting lists, reflecting the desire of boat-owners to obtain lake moorage. "If you have a boat in this community, it's really difficult to get a slip. I wouldn't call that a hardship, it's just a reality of supply and demand," said Zilkie, who nevertheless added he thought 243 slips was too many for the site.

"There's no way I can support a marina that large," said Coun. Jason Friesen, who described the developers' plan for a parkade topped by a greenhouse to replace lost farmland as "goofy".

Council heard the provincial and federal governments have already approved plans for the marina, subject to the project also being approved by the city.

Several councillors indicated they would be more comfortable with a marina with about 60 slips, to match the number of homes proposed for the upland portion of the property.