West Kelowna is looking at development in Gellatly Bay in the hopes of making it a year-round destination for both tourists and area residents.
Some of the preliminary plans are calling for a vibrant commercial and residential area with cafes, boutique shopping, condominiums with waterfront views and street-facing townhomes. The plan for the West Kelowna waterfront area has been subject to ongoing revision, but the planning department's main focus is to create a village-type atmosphere while connecting Willow Beach and Marina Park. It's a development destined to benefit the entire community because of enhanced gathering places, sidewalks and pathways for pedestrian traffic and contemporary housing options for West Kelowna residents.
Part of the approval process during the planning timeframe is to weight in with the agricultural advisory committee in West Kelowna. Their comments are critical because a major aspect of the development plan for Gellatly Bay is a possible land swap. There is a four-hectare piece of land south of Powers Creek that lays within the Agricultural Land Reserve that would need to be removed so that it would be open to development. If this property was taken out of the reserve, another property of equal size would need to be added back in. This swap is required so that there would be a neutral effect or zero effect overall on agriculture in this area of West Kelowna. The planning committee is looking at a four-hectare size property adjacent to Rotary Trails Park. There's a very good chance that this proposal will fly with the province as a previously suggested swap many years ago was approved. That approval had a time limit and expired in 2010 so the process needs to begin again with another application.
There was another plan concocted at least six years ago for Gellatly Bay when community leaders in West Kelowna yearned to create some exciting new residential development and commercial space in this area. Some of the plan, called the Waterfront Plan, was undertaken. New amenities and public space like the restored ferry dock and the promenade have been constructed.
However, the new plans propose the rezoning of five distinct properties in Gellatly Bay for mixed use. The reclassification of these properties will allow for new growth and the ability to create housing and opportunities for some commercial development. Landscaping is another part of the new Gellatly Bay environment that will put the frosting on the cake in terms of creating a first-class waterfront destination that encourages community interaction in restaurants, bars, coffee shops, art galleries and other commercial venues.
The current promenade is two-kilometres in length and is the link between a number of beaches and parks in the Gellatly Bay area. It's already a popular place in the summer to take a walk or to ride a bike.
The three areas of note in this region are the Rotary area with excellent grassy area and picnic tables, the Gellatly Dog Beach which is fenced and is one of the rare places where dogs and owners can splash in the lake and the CNR/Gellatly Aquatic Park, a unique recreational area with diving boards, a wharf and even a zipline.
The south end of the promenade along the waterfront boasts more beaches, like Willow Beach which is popular for good sand and beach volleyball. Marina Park has a children's playground and sheltered picnic facilities. There is also the Gellatly Nut Farm Regional Park with a pebble beach rather than a sandy beach, another playground and pathways through the farm which continues its operations after a century in business.
There has been extensive community consultation about the evolving plans. There was an open house in the fall of 2015 at the Westbank Lion's Hall and an online survey was conducted for those unable to attend the open house.
While the plans are worked out and being revised, a consultant working on the project has suggested that temporary commercial activity be carried out in the Gellatly Bay area, such as food trucks and farmer's markets. Pending the success of smaller-scale commercial offerings in the area, the municipality can go ahead with more permanent structures. Those include condo apartments above street front stores with rooftop amenities and waterfront views and street front townhomes.
A rendering of the proposed development as currently construed can be found on the City of West Kelowna website.