A comprehensive project for Vernon’s Okanagan Lake at Okanagan Landing Road and Lakeshore Road, to be called Port Okanagan, moved closer to docking Monday, June 27.
Vernon council unanimously approved third reading of two bylaw amendments for the project following a one-hour and 45-minute public hearing on the proposal.
The vote was 4-0 as Couns. Kari Gares, Akbal Mund and Brian Quiring were absent from the public hearing.
Official Community Plan (OCP) Amendment Bylaw 5902 calls to redesignate the OCP land use for a portion of the properties in order to allow for the development of Port Okanagan, which will be a mixed-use waterfront village with multi-family residential and commercial uses, including a resort hotel and conference centre designed around park space and an environmentally sensitive wetland area.
Zoning Bylaw Map and Text Amendment 5903 is to rezone the subject properties from R5 – Fourplex Housing Residential and C10 – Tourist Commercial to P5 – Private Park and a new CD7 – Comprehensive Development Area 7 in order to develop the Port Okanagan mixed-use development.
Close to a half-dozen people spoke with concerns about the proposal, mostly about density and parking.
Vernon resident Ray Noble questioned if the developer had done any projects on wetlands before, but said his biggest beef was the desnity proposed, with some buildings proposed to be 10-storeys high.
“I don’t see how a 10-storey building can be considered medium density,” he said. “I know the developer has to push the envelope.”
A couple of residents expressed concern over the proposed density eliminating their views while parking was another topic that brought about questions.
Developer Patrick Shaver of Avilia Developments, who owns the property, was in attendance and addressed the concerns. Yes, he said, most of his developments have been in Alberta with some in Australia, and about 90 per cent of the company’s projects contained wetlands.
Studies on the property, be it geotechnical or flooding, will continue to be done on the property.
“And that’s going to dictate the height of the buildings, the level of the buildings, the front entrance, the parkade,” said Shaver. “We will look at every site individually and that will be designed accordingly.”
One man spoke in favour of the project, and that was Armstrong resident John Trainor, who owns a unit at the neighbouring Vita Resorts.
“I think it will be a gem,” he said. “I think it’ll be the gem of Vernon, quite frankly.”
Coun. Scott Anderson who, like Quiring and Mayor Victor Cumming, lives in Okanagan Landing, agreed. Anderson called the project a “game-changer, a gem that will change for the better the entire Landing area.”
Cumming said he knows this is a complicated project for Landing residents.
“This is an area that will see some development, that’s the land use, that’s the OCP, that’s the community plan for it,” he said. “The critical part is to make it the best it can be. The critical part for me is to manage the wetlands and manage them to the best they possibly can be, and provide public access.
“Maintaining public access to the lakeshore is really important, and maintaining access on both lots on either side of Lakeshore is critical…I think it’s critical that we try to maximize the quality, and I think this is a really good alternative for this site.”