Proposed Development Challenging The Innovation Centre

Proposed Development Challenging The Innovation Centre

February 2, 2022
Signatures: 343Next Goal: 500
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Why this petition matters

Started by Innovation Centre

This petition is for all Kelowna community members who enjoy the Innovation Centre and share concerns specifically over the form and character of the proposed RISE development at the former RCMP site located at 350 Doyle Avenue. The current design goes against almost every guideline set out in the City’s Civic Precinct Plan and will become a block-wide 15 story apartment obstructing the Rooftop Park, Innovation Centre and The Madison (see renderings here). Please see our letter below to the City and Council Members requesting that RISE make changes to their design that are in line with the City's Precinct Plan, and sign our petition if you agree. 

Dear Mayor and Councillors,

We are writing this letter to express concerns over the form and character of the proposed RISE development at the former RCMP site located at 350 Doyle Avenue.

Public facing information on the current design and renderings of the building focus heavily on the building’s art walk, which we agree will be a great asset for the community. However, missing from this picture are the shadow studies and renderings from other angles of the building, which show a design that clearly sacrifices one community space for another and sends a message to the technology community that the Innovation Centre is no longer valued by the City or this Council.

The Okanagan tech sector is growing at a rate of 15% year over year with a direct economic impact of $1.3B. The Innovation Centre is the hub of the local tech community. It’s filled with fast growing tech companies and start-ups in addition to the dedicated spaces utilized by Okanagan College, UBCO, Accelerate Okanagan, and many other community partners.  Developed through a public/private partnership between local tech entrepreneurs and the Federal, Provincial, and Municipal governments, the goal was to grow Kelowna into one of the major tech hubs in Canada.  We are proud to say that we are accomplishing this goal far faster than anticipated, and the building has been routinely acknowledged as a key driver of that goal. For example Pela, a rising star in the Okanagan tech community moved their company from Toronto to Kelowna specifically to be in this building and help the community grow.  The Kelowna community uses the space regularly for meetings, fundraisers, conferences and events. One of the key features of the Innovation Centre is the rooftop park, specifically developed as a community amenity and used daily by hundreds to promote community wellness; lunches, fitness classes, events or just getting some fresh air and enjoying the view. 

Had RISE more closely aligned with the Civic Precinct Plan (page 64) for the former RCMP site, there would still be a view and light corridor on both sides of the rooftop park at The Innovation Centre, which would allow much of the experience to be preserved. We understand why the developer is trying to maximize the footprint of the lot in the most profitable way by building wider, rather than taller.  This is where we hope Council will step in to preserve the beauty and function of the downtown core above maximizing a developers' profits.

There are a number of key components that go directly against what the lot was planned for under section 3.2.1:

·      The footprint of the proposed building should follow the Schematic Design for the Civic Plaza.

·      The upper levels of the building (above the podium) should be a slim tower form and shall step back from the east and west edges of the podium.

·      The maximize building height for this site shall be 40.0 m or 15 storeys (including a 2-storey parking podium (i.e. a 2 storey-podium plus 13 storeys).

Furthermore, the current design of the building also goes against the following goals that the City of Kelowna laid out in regards to the preservation of views in the downtown core:

·      Protect views towards the lake over adjacent buildings by locating lower buildings towards the west part of the Precinct and higher buildings towards the east part of the Precinct, allowing for views over top of the lower buildings

·      Protect views towards the lake between adjacent taller buildings by maintaining optimum separation distance between such adjacent buildings and by siting buildings further to the east so as to optimize views between such adjacent buildings

We understand that development doesn’t always fit into a predetermined plan.  Since the current approved height of the building is already going to be blocking all existing views behind it, we would support the developer being allowed to build taller rather than wider (as planned) in order to achieve the density they are hoping for.  This would provide view corridors between buildings as intended rather than filling the entire footprint with a shorter squat building. This approach will also be more elegant visually for the downtown area as it grows.

If 350 Doyle is allowed to be built as is currently proposed, the shadows, size, and proximity of the development will render the community amenities of the Innovation Centre virtually useless and will sadly send the message that the City and Council value maximizing profits for one developer over the growth and support of the tech community and the preservation of their co-created space.

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Signatures: 343Next Goal: 500
Support now