A new office building has ‘wedged’ its way into an oddly shaped lot in downtown Kelowna.
While initially being deferred by council, the building, the aptly titled The Wedge, received approval by a 6-3 vote from city council at a public hearing on Tuesday, June 2.
The wedge-shaped six-storey building planned for the corner of Leon Avenue and Water Street initially came to council in March — not receiving city staff’s support.
That was mainly due to issues surrounding the site’s physical inability to contain the 10 parking stalls required in the area’s zoning and the applicant’s unwillingness to pay cash-in-lieu for not having those spaces. The cash-in-lieu of parking bylaw would’ve seen $330,000 paid to the city, which would make the development financially impractical, according to the applicant.
Following council’s request for compromise between city staff and the applicant, they reached a deal. The proposal approved by council on Tuesday still saw no on-site parking, but the applicant will now pay cash-in-lieu on just three stalls, totalling $99,000, and variances will be issued for the other seven. That comes in addition to the building’s increased bicycle storage and end-of-route amenities such as showers and locker space.
Parking is, however, planned to be provided by the developer, Matthew Isabelle, at the nearby Chapman Parkade. He told council he has secured three spots and is working on acquiring seven more. Those spaces will be available to building tenants. Isabelle also told council the building would likely be rented out either
The owner of a neighbouring business on Leon Avenue expressed her concern that this may set a precedent when council considers parking variances in the future, which councillors agreed is unlikely considering the unique parameters of The Wedge’s site.
Mayor Colin Basran said the approval of this proposal came down to a simple question: “Are we building downtown for people, or are we building downtown for cars?”
“We know if parking is easy and abundant, there is no incentive for anyone to change their behaviour,” said Basran, adding that if parking becomes harder to find downtown people may choose different means of transportation.
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