“What we have in these two documents is a great vision for the city.’
Those were Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran’s words at a public hearing Tuesday (Jun 21) night as council looked over the city’s new zoning bylaw.
“This helps us carry out that vision, and I’m a strong support of where we’ve ended up,” he added.
The other document the mayor was referring to is the Official Community Plan (OCP). The zoning bylaw was redesigned by city staff to be more user-friendly, easier to interpret and more consistent. Notable changes include reducing the number of zones from 66 to 34 and land use categories from 120 to 68. The actual document has also been cut down from 565 pages to 197.
“The new zoning bylaw is the first major step in implementing the recently adopted OCP,” said city planner Adam Cseke.
Other changes include regulations for building heights, which will now be measured by absolute height in metres rather than the number of storeys.
“The height discussion feels like it’s changed,” said Coun. Ryan Donn. “The investment is here, it’s coming, but as staff is saying the zoning bylaw was built for a different time. We need more flexibility to discuss with developers before they come to council.”
Coun. Luke Stack pointed out that while the public understands height maps, Floor Area Ratio (FAR) is a different matter.
“Most developments when they’re brought before council are legally within the zone but require so many variances that my experience is the public gets really frustrated because it feels like we’re trying to bend rules because even the word variance means it’s not typical.”
FAR is the ratio of a building’s total floor area to the size of the land area of the lot. Municipalities often use zoning to limit the intensity of land use and control the amount of development and construction.
Staff also recommend the re-established density bonus program in the new bylaw be used to increase the supply of rental housing and affordable housing stock, and the quantity and quality of public amenities.
Adoption of the bylaw is expected late this summer, however, it will still need provincial approval.