DEAR EDITOR:

West Kelowna residents are concerned about proposed amendments to city’s zoning bylaws and location of the 188-unit resort hotel.

If the Whistler developer’s application is successful, the land adjacent to Shannon View Drive, which is currently zoned low-density housing, would be rezoned to commercial tourism.

West Kelowna received the initial Baden Hotel/Spa application in December 2020. This past July, the developer hosted a public meeting where Brett Murdoch, chief architect, described the project as a “Whistler-style” resort consisting of 10 buildings including a 188-unit hotel, spa, parking for 159 vehicles, employees’ resident and 10 cabins.

Murdoch acknowledges, “The building on mass or footprint may be substantial, but the appearance of massing is somewhat controlled.”

Residents in attendance voiced concerns regarding potential changes in the zoning bylaws, the proposed location, and the negative impact a commercial development would have on the residential neighbourhood.

Resident Joan Bradshaw commented, “If one company applies to rezone a residential area, it will show precedence so that others will try the same thing. Bad idea for our residential area.”

A petition to stop the rezoning application has received nearly 700 signatures with most supporters wanting the characteristic and integrity of the neighbourhood to be respected. Resident Garth Ink commented “When we purchased our property, we did our due diligence and checked the zoning for this area. It should not be changed now.”

Concerns regarding the location along Shannon View Drive include the degradation of the character and esthetic integrity of the neighbourhood, loss of potential affordable housing due to rezoning, lack of emergency egress and traffic, infrastructure and parking issues.

Petition organizer Tom Groat stated, “We want what you want. A well-planned, livable community. This project needs to complement businesses and services (Westbank Town centre), tourism (lakefront, wineries) and have adequate access (arterial roads). This proposed location has none of these.”

In June, the City of West Kelowna presented the proposal to the advisory planning commission. Although city planner Carla Eaton indicated that the application was “very early on” and no technical documents and reports were available at the time, the APC gave the application unanimous support.

APC vice-chair Anthony Bastiaanssen likened the development to the Sparkling Hills Resort on the outskirts of Vernon. However, a Google map comparison of the two properties shows drastically different development of the surrounding neighbourhood.

Earlier this month the city planning department held Plan West Kelowna public meetings asking residents to provide feedback on how and where development should occur.

The feedback received will guide the city toward a revised official community plan. Through dialog with residents and results from an interactive mapping platform, participants identified the need for affordable housing and that reducing residential zoning is not in our city’s best interest. Resident Mick Wood commented, “We should not be looking at ways of trying to force something to fit that is so far outside both the existing zoning and neighbourhood to make it completely untenable.”

Mayor Gord Milsom and council received a letter from a community group representing 625 residents identifying several viable alternatives to the Shannon View Drive location.

The Goats Peak Comprehensive Develop-ment Plan, north of Goats Peak Regional Park has already been approved for a variety of land-use developments. Incorporating a commercial resort in conjunction with residential, park and town centre development has great merit. The Goats Peak location has better access from major arterial corridors to the lakeshore, to trails, to Westbank Town Centre, to businesses, and services.

The Raymer CD area at the northern extent of the city includes parks, agricultural uses, village centre with residential and commercial components. The plan includes phasing and implementation of services, roads, and amenities to ensure orderly development. This area would be an excellent location for a hotel/spa and could be developed in conjunction with residential, park, village centre development.

Tom Groat, Steering Committee Chair, Residents Opposed To Zoning Bylaw Changes – Baden Hotel/Spa Proposal