Council preparing for downtown building, farm worker proposals

The city says it's looking at four parts of downtown that could bring big development opportunities in the future.

In a document called the Civic Precinct Plan, city staff are laying out their priorities when it comes to future development in the downtown core.

Four properties are mentioned specifically, which are the RCMP detachment on Doyle, a portion of the museum at Queensway and Ellis, the current Interior Health building on Ellis, and a section of parking lot at the south end of Prospera Place.

The idea is to change all four from their current land use designations to one called Mixed-use Residential and Commercial, which allows for plenty of options in terms of housing, business, and art and culture developments.

The police moving into the new detachment on Clement next year will open that up, with the site being pegged for potentially another apartment building.

Meanwhile, Interior Health staff will transition into their new building, eventually leaving space on Ellis.

Staff are asking council to approve this change, to allow for more vibrant activity to be encouraged in Kelowna's downtown.

A joint effort between Kelowna, Lake Country, West Kelowna, and the RDCO has lead to some agreed terms for temporary farming housing in the Okanagan.

City staff say the situation is clear - farmers in the Okanagan are getting older, with fewer family members interested in taking over the operation, leading to a steady demand for temporary farm workers.

Starting last year, the four municipalities worked with the province to figure out best practices in building staff housing, which focus mainly on minimizing impact on farmland, making sure existing buildings are used first, and having buffers between surrounding property.

And the proposal is pretty straightforward - farms that are less than 30 hectares would be allowed a maximum of 40 workers, while bigger farms are allowed 1.34 farmers for each hectare of land.

That would allow an 80 hectare farm to have up to 108 workers, provided they've got enough clear space to house them.

Staff say over the past two years, council has dealt with requests to house more than 300 temporary farm workers.