A major new waterfront development in the Lower Mission, called Aqua, will soon be considered again by Kelowna city council. Municipal planners recommend the greenlight for the revised, slightly larger proposal. 

The proposed Aqua development on Kelowna's waterfront, with three towers up to 17 storeys, could swamp the skyline in the Lower Mission, city planners say.

But they will nevertheless recommend city council give final approval to revised plans for the 344-suite project at a June 22 meeting.

The project is well-designed and the location is suitable for a major new development geared toward tourism, commerce and recreation, planners say. And the public will benefit from enhanced access to Okanagan Lake with a new beach and boardwalk, they say.

The current height limit for the property is six storeys so a variance is required for the Aqua project to move forward. Some area homeowners will lose views of Okanagan Lake.

"It is acknowledged that the proposed height of all three buildings is well over the height limit of the zone," top city planner Ryan Smith writes in a report to council. "It does stand to be out of context with its immediate surroundings."

But the total number of suites proposed for Aqua is within the city-specified limit for the property, planners say. The suites could be built in clusters of six-storey buildings, but that would make for a less attractive development, they say.

Kelowna-based developer Mission Group has had different plans for the waterfront site, at the northwest corner of Truswell Road and Capozzi Road immediately south of the Cook Road boat launch, dating back to 2008.

Approvals that were given by the city in 2018 have now expired, so the company must make the necessary applications again.

Current plans show towers of 13, 15, and 17 storeys sitting atop a four-storey parking podium. The roof of the parkade will have a pool and recreation centre for the use of residents and people renting suites at Aqua.

Zoning for the site allows for  people who buy suites at Aqua to offer them for short-term rentals through online platforms such as Airbnb.

There's also a four-storey boat storage building along Lakeshore Road. Its bulky appearance would be softened by the inclusion of commercial premises at street level, municipal planners say.

In January 2018, city council voted 8-1 to approve the Aqua plans that were before them at the time, with only Mayor Colin Basran opposed. Those plans were largely similar to the ones up for discussion on June 22. One difference is the new proposal has 344 suites, up from 319.