Earlier this year, the City of Kelowna set up an interactive choose-your-own-adventure walk-through of four possible future growth scenarios that would shape the 2020-2040 Official Community Plan (OCP), and a majority of people who participated in the public engagement ended up choosing (by 72%) the more progressive scenarios that focussed on future development occurring mostly in the urban core rather than in the suburbs.
In December of last year, City Council endorsed one of these more progressive scenarios that set growth at 81% urban, and 19% suburban. That was until the development community (made up of organizations like the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, Okanagan Home Builders Association, Canadian Home Builders Association of the Central Okanagan, and the Okanagan Chapter of the Urban Development Institute) came together to lobby the city to re-examine their endorsement and work towards forming more “complete communities” by building more amenities and commercial developments out in the suburbs. It was a completely bonkers idea, ultimately rewarding those who built and invested in single family detached homes in the suburbs (increasing auto-dependency and raising carbon emissions), with “convenient” strip malls that they will drive to.
The industry intervention worked, and without further public input, in early spring City Council capitulated and voted to move forward with the developer-created OCP “Scenario 2.5” by a margin of 8-1 – that means more single-family house sprawl, infrastructure burden and costs, roads nobody else really needs and increased traffic into town. The future of Kelowna.
Fast-forward to today and the city is now asking for public input on its transportation future following council’s move away from making Kelowna more sustainable. They are asking residents to provide feedback on projects, policies and programs that will shape how we get around the city as part of its Transportation Master Plan (TMP) – we’re forced now to envision how people will get to and from this future shit show as a result of council caving to those organized, entrenched special interests in the local builder community that we mentioned above.
With over 400 potential projects, policies, and programs identified for consideration as part of the TMP, the city would like you to take approximately 20 minutes of your time to fill out an interactive survey that gives you 48 million dollars to spend. As you make selections, the budget including property tax estimates changes. The city’s OCP community gamification efforts perhaps provide a levelled up distraction: we get to sow our creative oats, feel a sense of public efficacy… and maybe forget what happened the last time we did this.
You have until December 6th to participate, and you can also check out their interactive display at City Hall which will be viewable during business hours from Nov. 26 until Dec. 6. Keep in mind that there’s a good chance your input will be mostly ignored, particularly if the local builder community has anything to say about it.