The City of Kelowna’s planning department wants earlier input from city council on lofty project proposals.
And a string of procedural changes may be the answer, staff say.
Council heard on Monday (May 10) the planning department’s idea to bring some of the more complex projects to council for consideration a lot earlier in the process than it does currently. The changes would ultimately save both city staff and developers time of pouring significant work into an application if council isn’t keen in the early stages.
Currently, both developers and planning staff invest significant time, money and labour into projects before city council gets a say. For projects that go above and beyond the OCP framework and garner a recommendation of non-support from staff, planners are still expected to work with the developer towards an alternate recommendation of support before council takes its first look. This often results in time-consuming work for both the developer and city staff, such as traffic impact reports that can take more than a year to complete.
“Right now, Kelowna proceeds under a one-size-fits-all approach. Regardless of whether it’s a carriage house or a major tower development or an area structure plan, they all generally follow the same type of process,” said city planner Terry Barton.
Citing some of the larger proposals that have come to the city in recent months, Barton said, “The planning department is feeling some stress with the type of development applications that we’re seeing.”
If the changes are enacted via a bylaw amendment, council would be able to check out before that expensive work takes place.
To test the bylaw, planners suggest bringing a 46-storey tower proposed on Bertram Street, which would be the city’s tallest structure, to council for early consideration.
City council supported the motion unanimously. Bylaw changes are expected to be presented to council at a later meeting.
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