Kelowna council blocks Thomson Flats development

1thomson flats

The Thomson Flats development was blocked by Kelowna city council in a 7-2 vote on Monday.

Staff read a report outlining non-support for the proposed 1,200 single-family detached homes citing a new community vision, awareness of climate change and a significant impact on traffic.

Strategic Transportation Planning Manager Mariah VanZerr said routes in the area already experience some of the worst congestion during morning rush hour.

“We've tried several different things to alleviate the delays and a lack of reliability that residents in the Southwest Mission are currently very frustrated with. The plain reality is that any additional development up in the Southwest Mission area is going to exacerbate congestion on these routes as well as in the core area of the city. Whether it’s 680 or 1,200 units is really irrelevant.”

She added that an extension of South Perimeter Road would only benefit residents of the new neighbourhood and that approval of Thomson Flats in any capacity would require the completion of projects not currently funded.

The applicant had reduced the project by 56% to 680 units and asked that council support the change.

They said it would reduce impact on traffic, but maintain the need for a new school and a commercial retail center to service the area.

Mayor Colin Basran voted against the project.

“I feel we need to give our new [Official Community Plan] a chance and what I mean by that is that there are almost 6,000 single-family lots either coming in the OCP or already zoned and we are in this new OCP directly a lot of our growth to the core, which could actually stretch out the consumption of those lots even further.”

Staff said those new homes are set to service population growth 15 to 20 years into the future.

Although the completion of South Perimeter Rd. would give the Mission a third arterial road into the city’s core, staff said future costs to taxpayers for maintenance would be exponential.

Councillor Loyal Wooldridge also opposed the project.

“I go back to the fact that we have a responsibility for future generations and what we would be doing by going backwards on the goals that the community has embraced. When we look at fiscal responsibility and our infrastructure deficit not just building new capital projects but the removal costs and maintenance costs. Climate change, not only addressing kilometers travelled but also GHG emissions.”

GHG emissions are one of the city's top priorities and the development was set to increase daily vehicle trips by 8,000 to 14,000.

Councillors Brad Sieben and Mohini Singh, who voted in favour of the project, said council needed more information regarding traffic impact with a reduced number of homes.