White: Will Kelowna be the next big and tall city in western Canada?

Kelowna is growing with high-rise projects and the city is attracting more millennials than any other age group.

article content

He knew that Kelowna was growing rapidly, but he had no idea by how much. On a recent visit, I was literally floored by the development that was happening not just downtown, but everywhere. I was also very impressed by the number and diversity of infill projects recently completed, under construction, or in the planning stages.

Announcement 2

article content

In fact, Kelowna is the fastest-growing city in Canada according to the latest data from Statistics Canada: Its current metropolitan population is 222,162, an increase of 14 percent since 2016. At this rate, it could soon overtake Regina and Saskatoon for become the sixth largest. city ​​in western Canada.

high town

In fact, Kelowna’s 36-story One Water Street residential tower is the tallest building between Calgary and Vancouver. There are plans for a 41-story tower by Kerkhoff Developments that would form part of a UBC Kelowna Okanagan University center in the center of the city. But wait, there’s more! A 46-story tower down the street has also been proposed, which would be taller than any residential tower in Calgary. (Yes, Telus Sky is taller, but it’s both an office building and a residential one.)

Announcement 3

article content

Not to be outdone, Ledingham McAllister has laid out plans for 130-story residential tower blocks in downtown Kelowna, in four towers: 28, 32, 34 and 36 stories respectively. This would be equivalent in scale to Calgary’s West Village Towers, its three towers over 40 stories.

Additionally, the Bernard Block project consists of 34- and 25-story residential towers, plus a 16-story office tower.

If all these towers are built, downtown Kelowna will start to look a lot like Calgary.

Kelowna versus Calgary city life

Like Calgary’s Olympic Plaza Cultural District, the Kelowna Cultural District includes an art gallery, two performance spaces, two museums, a new central library, and the charming Kasugai Gardens. It houses 21 pieces of public art and offers free guided walking tours on Saturdays in July and August, as well as a self-guided walking tour brochure.

Announcement 4

article content

Like most big cities today, Kelowna has its arena/event center downtown. Prospera Place is a 6,886-seat multi-purpose building that is the home of the Kelowna Rockets of the Major Junior A’s Western Hockey League.

Kelowna’s Harvey Avenue (also known as Highway 97) is a six-lane street that closely resembles Calgary’s Macleod Trail with its hodgepodge of chain stores, small strip malls, restaurants, and car dealerships. This is where you’ll find Orchard Park Mall, Kelowna’s equivalent of Calgary’s Chinook Center.

There are plans to convert four blocks of downtown Bernard Avenue into a pedestrian mall for the summer, with 21 patios, a Farmers’ Market and street games like giant chess, checkers and Jenga. Calgary will experiment this summer by allowing Stephen Avenue Walk to be pedestrian-only until 11 p.m. this summer.

ad 5

article content

Kelowna has done a great job of creating parks and public spaces along the downtown area facing the lake. Similarly, Calgary has created the RiverWalk along the south bank of the Bow River from Shaw Millennium Park to Fort Calgary, as well as three unique island experiences: Prince’s Island (festival), St. Patrick Island (family), and St. George’s. Island (zoo). ).

I was very impressed with the infill developments taking place in the Kelowna Fruit Packing District, just north of downtown. Here, small old houses on large lots are being converted into four- to six-story apartment buildings; It seemed like there was construction on every block. I noticed that one of the projects is for affordable housing, which like most big cities, is a big deal.

ad 6

article content

South of downtown, I enjoyed exploring Kelowna’s heritage homes along Abbott Street. It reminded me of wandering the streets of Calgary’s Roxboro, Mount Royal, and Scarboro neighborhoods.

A little further south, on Pandosy Street, there is an urban landscape that reminded me of Calgary’s 17th Avenue, as it is full of local boutiques, restaurants, cafes, mixed with various chain stores. It has three supermarkets: Urban Fare, Save-On-Foods, and Lakeview Market (which opened in 1946 and is still family-owned). South Pandosy’s public space is Boyce-Gyro Beach Park, with its iconic Big Red Apple concession; the equivalent of 17th Avenue is Tomkins Park. Pandosy is home to several major new mixed-use developments with retail at street level and several floors of housing above that could easily be mistaken for new infill in Calgary’s Kensington Village, University District, West District, Marda Loop, or Bridgeland.

ad 7

article content

Filling Innovation

What impressed me most was the fact that there are low-rise apartment blocks everywhere in suburban Kelowna. One that I took note of in particular was on the edge of an old strip mall on the corner of Hollywood and Highway 33 in the Rutland district; this is exactly what every city should be doing: turning excess surface parking into suburban residential housing.

I reached out to Ryan Smith, a planner for the City of Kelowna to learn more about Kelowna’s infill history, and he informed me that in 2017 the city kicked off the “Infill Challenge” by rezoning 800 downtown lots to filling. This has resulted in 99 infill projects to date.

He also shared that in 2001, Kelowna was one of the first cities to allow carriage or rail homes in single-family neighborhoods, which has since resulted in more than 1,000 new homes. The city is currently working on the “Infill Challenge 2.0,” which will lead to the rezoning of more than 1,000 sites, as well as creating policies to speed up infill developments.

ad 8

article content

Congratulations to the City of Kelowna for being proactive in managing infill residential development. Too often, municipal leaders are reactive when it comes to infill projects, which then results in NIMBYism and costly delays for the private developer in getting infill approvals, which then increases the cost to the infill home buyer. .

Last word

While many Calgarians (and hopefully many Canadians) think of Kelowna as a small resort town for summer vacationers and retirees, recent data from Stats Canada indicates that Kelowna’s growth is due to millennials more than any other. age group.

Yes, Kelowna is fast becoming a big city with all the conveniences of urban life and sadly also the problems that come with it like homelessness, drug use and affordable housing. And, the median price for a single-family home in Kelowna is more than $1 million and $450,000 for a condo.

Announcement 1


Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil discussion forum and encourages all readers to share their thoughts on our articles. Comments can take up to an hour to be moderated before appearing on the site. We ask that you keep your comments relevant and respectful. We’ve enabled email notifications – you’ll now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there’s an update in a comment thread you follow, or if a user you follow comments. visit our Community Principles for more information and details on how to adjust your E-mail settings.

Leave a Comment