Concerned with city growth

Re: Peter Emery's letter Against high-rises downtown (Castanet, Feb 21)

Peter Emery concluded his Feb. 21 letter: "I find myself questioning who runs this city. Is it the developers, the planning department or our elected officials?"

When it comes to discussing Kelowna municipal politics, Mr. Emery asked the key question. I think we should change the name “Kelowna city council” to "Kelowna city planners and developers council".

If everything in Kelowna's 2040 Official Community Plan can be modified or changed to suit the wishes of developers when city planners recommend rezoning or a new variance (land use exception) to council, then how is it really a plan at all?

On Feb. 15, Mayor Tom Dyas gave his State of the City address at a Kelowna Chamber of Commerce luncheon. He said, in part: “We have a plan and a vision for growth.... We are making these investments because we believe they are essential to the future of our city and for your business."

Dyas also told the sold-out crowd: "We have a great opportunity and responsibility to make growth sustainable."

How does he define "sustainable growth" or "sustainable development"?

The most frequently quoted definition of sustainable development is from Our Common Future, also known as the Brundtland Report: "Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

According to the city's website, Kelowna's population is expected to grow by more than 45,000 taxpayers by 2040. How will increasing demand for water connectivity to new housing be sustainable? Perhaps Dyas could explain the specifics in his next Castanet one-on-one interview.

Lauded economist Herman Daly, emeritus professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy, has developed arguments in favour of a steady-state economy, which recognizes the physical limitations of our planet and seeks a sustainable economic and ecological equilibrium.

Daly defines his concept of a steady-state economy as an economic system made up of a constant stock of physical wealth (capital) and a constant stock of people (population), with both stocks maintained by a flow of natural resources through the system. The term usually refers to the economy of a country, but it can also apply to the economic system of a city, a region, or the entire world.

In 2022, Daly told The New York Times: "Growth is an idol of our present system....Every politician is in favour of growth, and no one speaks against growth or in favor of steady state or levelling off. But I think it’s an elementary question to ask—does growth ever become uneconomic?” (Read: "This Pioneering Economist Says Our Obsession With Growth Must End", New York Times, July 17, 2022)

Also in 2022, Canadian actor and singer-songwriter Noah Reid released his third album, Adjustments. The sixth track is titled "Another F- Condo". What follows is my rewrite of Reid's lyrics for these times:

Another Mega Tower

Another mega tower goin' up
Another glass and concrete sign for all those who are movin' up
And there's another giant hole dug in the ground
I see the cracks in what's left of K-Town

And there's another heritage building comin' down
Another piece of history is gone without a sound
And it's another jewel stolen from the crown
Who's hackin' down the trees of K-Town?

I pledge allegiance to this city I was born in
That's the one bein' rezoned, infilled, and condoed every mornin'
Bloated budget for a new Rec Centre
Odds are in their favour

For the "Official Community Continuously Changing Plan"

Another zoning bylaw just got passed
Another group of heat islands will be such a hot hot blast
Another sign they just want the tourists around
The tower cranes are invading K-Town

David Buckna, Kelowna

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