Kelowna’s soon-to-be-tallest building will be three storeys shorter than originally planned.
Council has approved development permits for the UBC Okanagan downtown campus tower at 43 storeys. The building, proposed for 550 Doyle Avenue, first came to council at 46-storeys.
“While this represents a departure from the 2040 Official Community Plan (OCP) downtown heights map, which suggests a height of 26-storeys, the OCP also has policy that supports the increased height,” said Trisa Atwood, city planner. “Policy 4.4.3 states that if a proposal contains significant benefit to Kelowna citizens, it should be considered for additional height which does apply in this case.”
Atwood noted those benefits include rental housing, a post-secondary institution in a socially connected urban centre, and outstanding architectural design. Councillor Luke Stack said the project is a substantial improvement and a gain for downtown.
“I also want to thank the applicant for reducing it a few storeys and listening to council’s concerns and the public’s concerns.”
The building will house academic space on levels one through eight, and 473 rental apartments on levels 12 through 43.
“It meets a number of our objectives, 473 rental units is astounding,” said councillor Loyal Wooldridge. ”Normally we approve about 955 annually, so that’s basically half in one afternoon.
Atwood told council that currently there is a 1,300-person waiting list for student housing at UBCO’s main campus. The downtown tower will house nursing and social work programs with 500 students eligible for housing. The height of the building was still a concern for some on council.
“But I’m impressed with the project overall, said Coun. Mohini Singh. “I think it’s a coup for us to get a world-class university right in our downtown core.”
Although he called it a “game-changer” to have UBCO downtown, Coun. Charlie Hodge was the lone vote against the development.
“I still can’t get past the height, I think it’s overkill,” added Hodge. “I also think it creates competition for other potential student housing facilities in the downtown. I think the focus should be education first and housing second when it comes to this particular project.”
Hodge also said he felt the development was contrary to the OCP.
“I have some concerns about the safety, and good luck with the parking I hope that works.”