Mega condo towers get initial approval for re-zoning

A couple of condo buildings that would become the tallest in Kelowna took their first step toward approval on Monday.

The project would add two high-rise condo towers at the corner of Sunset Drive and Water Street - and is now in front of council as developers are asking for the property to be re-zoned.

The re-zoning would be from a C4 to a C7 zone, which allows for higher density occupancy.

Councillor Luke Stack says he thinks the change is a good idea.

"We've really been sitting and kind of waiting many years for this street to develop, and bring forth its potential. So I think actually seeing towers on it will be very beneficial to the downtown," he said.

"I know our original downtown plan also called for towers. The idea is that there would be adequate spacing, so that we would protect people's views. And from what I can see, preliminarily, this seems to be meeting that."

City staff told council that as a result of a traffic study, North American Development Group will pay for traffic signals at the Water Street and Sunset intersection, as opposed to a roundabout.

Planning Manager Terry Barton explained why.

"It is a tight spot, and a traffic signal is an appropriate solution. Coupled with the fact that a roundabout does take up additional land, and doesn't necessarily provide any better solution, it provides more or less the same," he said.

"It was, again, felt that the traffic signal, in this tight urban environment with some constraints, would be the best."

With the initial approval, that application will now move ahead to a public hearing on June 27, where members of the public can talk about that re-zoning.

Councillor Charlie Hodge says he wants people to realize that Monday's approval isn't an endorsement of the full proposal.

"I have no problem seeing this move forward to a public hearing process as a re-zoning application - where it goes from there is a whole other ballgame," he said.

"I think it's important for people not to assume that because it's going to a public hearing, that we're approving a 36-storey tower today. Just to clarify."

If the re-zoning ends up being approved, council would then debate the design at a future meeting, when a development permit has officially been applied for.

The two tall, skinny pencil towers would be 36 and 29 storeys, respectively.