OK Falls Town Centre Revitalization Plan
In 2013, the new Area D-2 Community Plan was adopted. A key objective of this plan is to “enhance the vibrancy and attractiveness of Okanagan Falls by supporting a variety of revitalization and beautification programs.” The Plan also supports concentrating new residential development into the community to create a compact urban form and focuses on waterfront parks and enhanced pedestrian circulation.
In early 2014, the RDOS commissioned a process to develop a design-focused economic revitalization plan and implementation strategy for Okanagan Falls Town Centre. The objective of this project is to reverse the fortunes of Ok Falls through public and private investments and partnerships, streetscape improvements and quality urban design to make the town centre an enticing place to live, work and play for local residents and visitors.
Phase 1 completed in June 2014, analyzed the current situation and engaged the public in exploring opportunities to revitalize the Ok Falls town centre. A set of key planning principles were developed as follows:
Highway 97 to remain a major transportation corridor through the town centre
A mixed-use “place magnet “ to serve as the town centre focal point
Skaha Lake waterfront to serve as the greatest asset and to be enhanced as the second “place magnet”
Secure uninterrupted public pedestrian lakefront access
Create an urban agricultural/local food hub
Develop integrated pedestrian and cycling networks
Build on existing strengths and assets
Support residential densification in and around the town centre
Two alternative preliminary revitalization scenarios were developed in Phase 1.
Scenario A: Focuses on Hwy 97. Proposes improvements to Hwy/Main St. intersection. Focuses new tourist commercial uses on highway. Highway 97 with frontage road on north side. Place magnet at west end of town. Support resort development at foot of Willow Street.
Scenario B: Focuses visitor type development north of highway. Locates wine centre/visitor centre/civic centre plaza on Flea Market site facing northerly extension of Willow St. Support redevelopment of key sites at foot of Willow St. and at Flea Market site. Explore public moorage/on-water activities.
A community consensus developed around the advancement of Scenario B.
Phase 2 of the project involved a design charrette on two days in September 2015. A charrette is an intensive, interactive physical planning and design workshop where consultants work with the public and stakeholders to develop preliminary design concept for an area. The public session was held in day one of the charrette. On the second day consultants developed the concepts and presented to about 65 people at the end of the day.
An Illustrative Plan was developed to show key planning and design ideas generated in the charrette and to further elaborate on the principles established in Phase 1. This Plan shows what the town centre could look like when all sites are redeveloped in the future. It is not intended to be definitive or rigid and would be subject modification as development opportunities arise in future. An important aspect of the plan is to reorient the town centre away from Highway 97 and toward Skaha Lake and to provide view and pedestrian corridors between the new Place Magnet on Highway 97 and the waterfront. The project also includes a Land Use Plan, Road Network Plan and Walking & Cycling Network Plan.
The Concept Plan preparation involved considerable consultation with the public including a questionnaire. Comments were also received from some of the property owners in the area who had concerns about some aspects of the Concept Plan, including the proposed public corridors through the private lands and the amount of new commercial development proposed.
The owners have been advised that the Plan is a concept at this time and that there will further opportunities in the Phase 3 project to discuss details and resolve concerns.
At the Regional Board meeting of April 28, 2016, the Board accepted the Phase 2 Okanagan Falls Revitalization Visions Exercise report, dated December 2015, as a guide for future policy planning for the community.
The Phase 3 project is to include a revision of concepts into policies, planning goals and Development Permit guidelines and that would be adopted into the Area D-2 Community Plan. The zoning of the Town Centre area is also to be reviewed. Infrastructure and road/ traffic improvements, partnership opportunities, and funding strategies will be pursued. This Phase of the project began in October-November of 2016 and will continue into 2017. This project will involve considerable consultation with property owners and the public.
Draft Phase 3 Report - Okanagan Falls Town Centre Plan (September 2017)