One Water

The One Water Street highrises in downtown Kelowna, shown centre and left in this artist rendering, have upper-storey floorplates of 960 square metres. City planners want to restrict future residential towers to a maximum floorplate of 750 square metres.

A future Kelowna skyline of strangely thick high-rises will be averted Monday if city council takes steps Monday to fix an "administrative error" in building regulations.

Current rules allow for high-rises to have upper floors covering 1,221 square metres, far bigger than the 750 square metre limit found in most cities.

"We haven't had any towers with that large of a floor plate built in Kelowna and luckily so," Terry Barton, a city planner, said Friday. "Because we have had developers, interested in maximizing their returns, asking questions about it."

The distinctive One Water Street tower is downtown Kelowna's widest high-rise, with a floorplate on its upper storeys of 960 square metres.

The current maximum upper floorplate size of 1,221 square metres has been on the city books since 2017 because of an "administrative error", council will hear from staff on Monday.

Planners suggest setting a new maximum of 930 square metres for commercial towers and 750 square metres for residential high-rises.

Reducing the girth of high-rises, planners say, helps preserve lake and mountain view corridors, makes for a more appealing skyline, and helps create "faster moving" shadows on the ground.

The smaller floorplates do not kick in until building height exceeds 12 storeys, or 40 meters. That will allow for the continued construction of wider mid-rise buildings, such as the Innovation Centre and Interior Health building, which are kitty-corner to one another at the intersection of Ellis Street and Doyle Avenue in downtown Kelowna.

Staff's recommendation is for council to advance the proposed changes for tower construction to a future public meeting, so interested members of the community can provide their comments before final adoption.