Building Respect

It’s the developer’s dilemma: how to retain the soul of the land you’re building on while meeting environmental standards and creating a livable community. It’s like herding kittens: when you focus more on one, the others get away. That’s why it took a few decades for Westbank First Nation matriarch Roxanne Lindley, whose family owns a prime 18-hectare stretch of waterfront land directly across from Kelowna, to decide which developer got to play house on her estate. Lindley says it is no coincidence that the winning bid came from a woman. The ideas put forward by Renee Wasylyk, CEO of Kelowna-based Troika Developments Inc., met all of Lindley’s requirements for infrastructure, community and respect for the land. Wasylyk’s proposal for West Harbour includes 1,500 individual living spaces and a pedestrian-friendly village with ample green space and green technology. “I knew that she wanted something different and that she wasn’t willing to sign on with someone she couldn’t see eye to eye with,” Wasylyk says over the phone from her Kelowna office. “Both of us were looking for things that would be different from a man’s world. I wasn’t looking for a business transaction based solely on profitability; I was looking for the next piece in the community’s development that would take this area into the next 10 years.” Introduced by a mutual friend, Lindley and Wasylyk quickly realized that, despite their cultural and socio-economic differences, they had much in common. “With Renee I could go in and there was always time to sit and have a discussion,” says Lindley. Wasylyk and her team “were very thorough in asking us what we wanted, what our vision was. It wasn’t always about business,” she adds. “They got to know the family and we got to know a little bit more about them.” Troika signed a 99-year lease on the West Harbour land for what Wasylyk says was about the same as it would have cost to buy it. The project’s August soft sales launch sold 25 per cent of the $420,000 homes.