Union takes issue with Kelowna tower

The BC Government Employees Union(BCGEU) wants Kelowna City Council to reconsider its re-zoning approval for a 25 storey downtown development known as the Brooklyn tower.

The 178 unit tower would be built at 1471 Saint Paul Street, just north of Bernard Avenue, and would include above-ground parking and street-front retail.

By changing the property’s zoning designation this week, from C-4 to C-7, the Brooklyn can be used for short-term rentals, like AirBnB.

“In the middle of a housing crisis, we believe it’s incumbent on council to make sure that when they’re approving extra density that some of the value of that extra density goes back toward solving the housing crisis,” said BCGEU Treasurer, Paul Finch. “Each time the city approves extra density, a portion of that density should be set aside for public density, for below market housing, to ensure that there will be long-term rentals available, at affordable rates.”

The BCGEU has over 77 thousand members across BC and Finch says Kelowna members called for the Union to voice disapproval of Brooklyn.  He says similar stances have, and will been taken by the Union across BC in an effort to drive affordable housing.  “We are going to act on behalf of our members where they ask us to.  Where we take a position on a particular development like this, it’s because we’ve been solicited by our membership so where those (issues) come forward from our members, we’re going to continue to consider them, yes.”

Luke Turri was a guest on The Early Edition with Phil Johnson this morning.  He’s the Vice-President of Development for the developer, Mission Group.  Turri explained, “We’ve marketed the building for short-term rentals and that’s what’s currently allowed in the C-7 zoning downtown, but what we’ve also said is, we are championing the development of downtown and urban densification in Kelowna.  We want to be a part of that conversation.  We want to be good stewards of that.  As these regulations are being reviewed (over the coming months), we will ensure that our building meets those bylaws and regulations.”

“We’re very much on the same page, in terms of the vision for the future of Kelowna’s development, including the downtown.”