British Columbia·New

Kelowna, B.C. business owners concerned about appearance of modular housing for homeless

A group of business owners in Kelowna says the modular homes look like 'oil patch construction trailers' and do not match the character of the neighbourhood.

Mill Creek Commerce Park group says modular homes don't match 'character of the neighbourhood'

On its website, the City of Kelowna shows this building as an example of what the housing on Commerce Avenue may look like. (City of Kelowna)

A group of Kelowna business owners is voicing concerns about the appearance of modular housing proposed to help the city's homeless.

On Friday, the province announced a multifaceted housing strategy for Kelowna that includes 55 modular supportive housing units for 1642 Commerce Avenue, a retail area just off Highway 97.

But the Mill Creek Commerce Park business owners say they only found out about the proposal through the media and they want the project delayed.

"A decision is being made that will impact all of the surrounding businesses and none of us were consulted, or even informed," Tony Gaspari, a spokesperson for the group, said in a news release.

Gaspari said the group's opposition is not to the nature of the housing itself, but to the aesthetic of the buildings proposed.

'Almost old oil-patch construction trailers'

He said the business park adopted a set of design principles and the modular housing "really goes against the city's own development permit guidelines."

"It appears to us that they're almost old oil-patch construction trailers. They're basically stacked on top of each other to form row housing. We're concerned about that."

The city says it is in discussions with B.C. Housing about how to improve the appearance of the buildings with landscaping. (City of Kelowna)

"We're quite supportive of our province's social housing initiatives ... but maybe there's a way to have the province create a development that meets the form and character of the neighbourhood," said Gaspari.

The city denies the proposal in its current form goes against local zoning regulations.

"We don't bring forward recommendations to council that are contrary to our own rules and regulations," said Doug Gilchrist, director of community planning and strategic investments for the City of Kelowna. 

'Going to be compromises'

He said housing is an "allowable use" for that zone and such projects are necessary to address the current housing crisis.

"Given the crisis in our community, given the temporary nature of the housing that's going to be put there, yes there's a compromise on how it looks," he said.

The city is working with B.C. Housing to consider landscaping or wrapping the units to improve the appearance, said Gilchrist.

"But there's going to be compromises when you're trying to address emergency issues like this."

The development permit for the supportive housing goes before Kelowna City Council next week. 

With files from CBC's Daybreak South.


Jaimie Kehler is a web writer, producer and broadcaster based in Kelowna, B.C. She has also worked for CBC News in Toronto and Ottawa. To contact her with a story, email