Integrated Neighbourhoods

Zoning is an important tool that will encourage integration.

Transportation

Promote a Bicycle culture and improved Public Transit

Water

This precious water resources we have need to be monitored, protected and managed carefully.

Expand and improve Public Spaces

Promote the expansion of public markets, “people places,” shopping hubs, parks and recreational facilities.

Arts & Culture

Healthy communities include public access to the arts, culture and community events.

Housing Affordability

A good community must have a variety of housing options for its citizens.

The Environment

Expand recycling programs - encourage water and land conservation measures.

Inclusive Community

Welcome diversity and celebrate our differences

Merry Christmas

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We had a great evening of enjoying the beautiful winter sites in Kelowna. House of Rose Winery and Candy Cane Lane (above) - Congrats to all those involved in this neighborhood project on Collison Court. I also checked out the Stuart Park skating rink with the new fire pit. Merry.

Hope you all get out to enjoy the many cool things you can do in Kelowna. Merry Christmas to all. 

 

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Kelowna Capital News By Alistair Waters

December 3, 2015

A year ago Monday, the current Kelowna city council was sworn into office. And in just 12 short months, with a new mayor and four new faces among the five men and four women sitting around the council table, this council seems to have fully embraced Mayor Colin Basran’s election campaign promise to make Kelowna “open for opportunity.”

It has seized on the opportunity to buy lakeshore parkland, attempted to show a more inclusive face of the community to residents and outsiders alike with the creation of the city’s first “rainbow” crosswalk and jumped on the opportunity to sell use of its “dark” fibre network for moving large amounts of computer data. Oh, and it also led the successful bid by several municipalities, including Kelowna, to buy the abandoned CN Rail corridor between here and Vernon for future use as a recreational trail. A purchase described as a “once-in-a lifetime” opportunity.

And that’s just a few of its first-year check marks. There was also the usual plethora of plans associated with running a city, everything from the budget to how to develop the civic centre of the downtown core.

“This past year has flown by,” said Basran, adding he’s not only happy with how his council performed during year one, he’s also proud of what it achieved.

He’s glad the province introduced four-year terms for municipal councils to replace the previous three-year terms because it not only gave him and his council time to deal with the inevitable learning curve associated with rookie politicians, it gave them time to start getting things done early.

“Based on the old (three-year term) system, it’s like we are now just starting our term now,” said Basran, who sat as a councilor for three years prior to running for mayor.

Exhibiting a youthful exuberance for the job his predecessors—all older—did not have, the 38-year-old mayor used a word of today to describe his feelings about his first year as mayor: Awesome.

Looking back over the last year, it’s hard to find examples of where this council may had fallen off the rails in its decision making. And if it did, it picked itself up quickly and got back on track.

If you ask Basran where he sees his council differing from the previous Walter Gray-led council that he served on from 2011 to 2014, he’ll say in the area of social policy.

Economic growth is important but social planning has taken on a much more prominent role under this council than the previous one. It’s not at the level of the councils led by former Mayor Sharon Shepherd but it has also not blinked before business either.

“It’s a small thing but creation of the rainbow crosswalk (painted just before the city’s annual Pride Festival this past summer) is an example of our commitment to social issues,” said Basran.

He said it shows his city is a more inclusive place, something some may have felt was not the case before.

In terms of priorities moving forward, infrastructure, particularly water, remains top of the list for council, according to the mayor. And when you preside over one of the fastest growing cities in the country, providing top-notch services for a growing population has to be job one.

It remains to be seen if the council can keep up the same pace for the next three years that it set during its first year. But Basran, as you would expect, says his council is up to the task.

“I think we’ve done pretty well so far,” he said.

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City HomesRental housing construction is on the upswing in Kelowna.

(JOHN MCDONALD /InfoTel Multimedia)

December 02, 2015 - 10:30 AM

KELOWNA - The city has done a lot to encourge development of rental housing and there’s not too much more that can be done, except to let the incentives do their work and keep on pushing for more.

That’s the opinion of Luke Stack, a city councillor and also executive director of the Society of Hope, a non-profit dedicated to developing social housing in Kelowna.

“The position I take is that we should do everything we can to increase the rental housing supply, whether there is a good or bad market,” Stack says. “This is a popular place to live and there is going to be ongoing pressure."

Kelowna has been flirting with a near-crisis level of rental housing supply, a landlord’s market with a vacancy rate of one per cent last year. That has ticked up a bit to 1.5 per cent, according to the Canadian Mortage and Housing Corporation, but is still not in the two to four per cent range Stack considers optimal.

“Once you get in there, positive things start to happen, at least for renters,” Stack says. “Landlords start renovating their properties and they drop the rents to attract tenants.”

Tick up too high, though, and landlords will start losing money because of too many vacancies, driving some of them out of the market and reducing supply.

A balanced rental market, on the other hand, offers stability to landlords and has the added effect of addressing affordability, another area where Kelowna has problems, Stack adds.

The B.C. Non-Profit Housing Association’s rental housing index ranks Kelowna as being in crisis because of high rents that are forcing some tenants to spend as much as 50 per cent of their income on housing.

The city saw plans for more than 300 new purpose-built rental units begin development this year, the first time it has reached the goal council set in the 2012 housing strategy.

That stacks up to the 489 rental units constructed in the city between 2010 and 2014, just a third of the desired number despite a raft of incentives.

Developers of purpose built rental properties in Kelowna can apply for direct rental housing grants — the city gave out $286,000 worth of them for 2016 — as well 10-year property tax exemptions when the vacancy rate slips below three per cent.

In addition, developers of so-called micro-suites — suites less than 29 square metres — are eligible for developement cost charge exemptions.

Long range policy planner James Moore says the jump in rental housing construction is a sign that developers are finally returning to the multi-family housing market, after getting burned during the 2008 downturn.

“It takes more than just incentives. It takes a lot of time for confidence to build back up and I think we are seeing developers cautiously putting their feet back into the market,” Moore says.

While development didn’t stop during the intervening years, the focus was more on single-family residential and townhouses, Moore adds, in part because there is less risk in financing and building them as compared to large multi-family developments.

What’s also helping, Moore says, is that some bigger developers have jumped into the market, including Al Stober Construction, with a micro-suite development on Dickinson Avenue.

“We’re certainly hoping leaders of the industry will perceive the need and take the leap. Others will soon follow."

What remains to be seen is if the numbers hold up.

“It’s encouraging. It’s looking healthier than it has been in the recent past,” Moore says of early indications drawn from developer enquiries.

About the only thing the city hasn’t done is become a landlord itself. Both Stack and Moore say the city creating its own housing authority isn’t on the radar.

“That issue has been explored years ago by the housing committee. The consensus was not to pursue that as a role for the city,” Stack says. 

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Remembrance Day 2015 was well attended at Kelowna City park. Thousands of people attended to remember those who are serving and have served our Country. The weather was kind to us all. It was a very nice ceremony.

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Ron Seymour's editorial pretty much says it all....

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