With one of the fastest growing populations in Canada, Kelowna has been investing considerable time and effort into long-range planning. The city’s most recent Official Community Plan (OCP), revised in 2011, imagines Kelowna in 2030. Key aspects of this plan include social, environmental, cultural, and economic sustainability. Smart growth is the driving ideology in many of the policies.
For those of you unfamiliar with smart growth, know that it is a community planning theory that values complete, compact neighbourhoods with a variety of transportation options.
Like many other cities, Kelowna is using land use zoning to dictate urban form and achieve smart growth principles. Kelowna has also designated five neighbourhoods as urban centres: Rutland Town Centre, South Pandosy, Orchard Park, Capri, and the city centre. The purpose of the urban centres is to ensure proximity to services, such as healthcare, recreation, and shopping.
To aid in the development and densification of these centres, Kelowna offers several incentives. Specific to Rutland Town Centre, is a tax exemption for redevelopment and beautification of property in the designated urban centres. The city is kick-starting redevelopment through the construction of a new public transit hub, to be completed sometime in the fall of 2012. Located close to the intersection of Highway 33 and Rutland Road, the new hub promises to be a convenient access to several transit routes in the city.
Zoning in the urban centres strongly favours developers who include sustainable concepts within their plans. In most zones, height allowances are capped at four stories. However, developers can increase this maximum to seven stories in the following ways:
- Inclusion of below-grade parking;
- Participation in a car share or co-op program;
- Inclusion of a public plaza;
- Construction of a green roof.
While the attempts to foster complete community growth are admirable, it is open for debate whether or not Kelowna’s policies are aggressive enough to see real change.
Is zoning itself enough to ensure sustainable development, or should cities undertake development projects on their own terms?
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