Official Community Plan: Facts in focus
By 2040, Kelowna will be home to 50,000 more people. Council received the first set of Facts in Focus discussion papers today, providing background on a few of the topics that will be touched on in the upcoming Official Community Plan (OCP) update to guide how Kelowna will accommodate future residents.
The Official Community Plan (OCP) update will look at how to accommodate our future residents. A wide range of topics are covered by the OCP update process. An in-depth dive into some of those topics will be presented in a series of Facts in Focus discussion papers. These eight papers will build on each other and set the stage for the direction and goals to pursue in the OCP process:
- What is an OCP? (+ interactive, online summary)
- Population Projections and Housing Needs (+ interactive, online summary)
- Building Complete Communities
- Transportation Networks
- Preserving Agriculture
- The Environment
- Climate Change
- Servicing the Plan
Over the next two months, the Facts in Focus papers will be presented to Council and to residents. Content from these papers will also be shared in report form, in an interactive format and through letters written from the future to introduce each of the sets. The letters are meant to incite conversation among residents in a different format than is typically seen through a project process. The first of three letters is included below. For more information on the Official Community Plan update, visit kelowna.ca/imaginenext.
Letter From the Future
March 12, 2040
Dear Kelowna residents of 2018,
During the past 20 years, our city has welcomed 50,000 new residents. The changes that have come along with this growth happened over time, but as I stand here today I know that Kelowna is more vibrant, more diverse and has more opportunities than ever before.
In 2018, I was 11 years old. Needless to say, planning for the future was not top-of-mind for me at that time. However, my parents could see the City was changing and there was a particular need for more rental housing, so they decided to get involved in planning for the future of the community.
Some hard decisions have been made over the years and many of these can be tied back to the Official Community Plan update my parents participated in when I was a kid.
As I got older, I learned that the Official Community Plan guides how the land within a city’s boundaries should be used. In this way, it determines how a city grows to accommodate elements such as people, businesses, institutions and agriculture as a few examples. While the OCP sets the overall course of how we grow, individual proposals for properties and variations in regulations have resulted in amendments over the past two decades to accommodate changes in our community and meet the needs of the people who live here.
The OCP influences what types of new housing should be built (single-family homes, apartments, townhouses, etc.) and what parts of the city it should be built in. This was one of those changes my parents often discussed at dinner.
They would often talk about how higher buildings and multi-unit complexes changed the character of older neighbourboods, but knowing that Kelowna was one of the fastest growing cities in Canada the conversation would shift to where would our city even accommodate a growing population? If Kelowna didn’t densify its urban areas, our city would have to sprawl even further into sensitive environmental areas, up the hillsides or convert agricultural land. None of those options were solutions for my parents because a big part of why they moved here was for the natural environment. Densifying certain areas made more sense. What’s more, denser urban centres make it easier to provide services like better public transit, which was and still is a major benefit for me and my family.
Much of Kelowna’s growth over the last 20 years has been concentrated in our five urban centres. This has created compact neighbourhoods with great mixes of residential, commercial and recreation space. It’s also a lot easier to get around by walking, biking or transit than it was when I was a kid.
Today in 2040, there are 180,000 people who live in Kelowna, which is almost 40 per cent more than were living here when I was a kid. There are still a lot of cars on the road and there is still congestion, especially in the summer. But even then, the growth in the number of cars on the road has diminished in relation to the overall population growth and there are more options to get around because of the priorities my parents had a say in back in 2018.
It’s up to you Kelowna residents of 2018. The City is launching its update of the OCP and it’s time for you to influence the outcome. Your city’s future is in your hands!
Kelowna resident 2040