A new and larger Kelowna Costco, including a gas station, is planned for long vacant farmland across from the main entrance to Mission Creek regional park.

The volume discount retailer is eyeing a property, currently zoned for agriculture, at the southwest corner of Baron Road and Leckie Road, adjacent to Springfield Road.

Plans now under review by city staff indicate a store of about 155,000 square feet, 20 per cent larger than the current location. A Costco gas station, the opening of which it is believed by many would offer a welcome price break at the pumps, would be built on an adjacent site on Baron Road.

Company officials with the Washington state based Costco have said for years they were investigating other locations for the Kelowna store, at the corner of Highway 33 and Highway 97, which they say is too small.

The new store would have 820 parking stalls and require a new set of traffic lights at the corner of Leckie road and Parkview Road.

Once city planners complete their assessment of the development proposal, they will submit a report to city councillors recommending whether or not the property should be rezoned. Although the site is classed A1 farmland under the city’s zoning bylaw, it is not within the provincially controlled Agricultural Land Reserve.

Costco’s apparent difficulties in finding a new location became something of an issue in last falls municipal election. Mayoral challenger Tom Dyas accused the city of wanting to impose too many rules for a new store, such as a parkade, so less land was taken up for parking.

Dyas said he understood Costco was considering a new location in West Kelowna or on land within the Westbank First Nations, and that prospect generated alarm from Kelownians who are averse to driving across Okanagan Lake.

In response, Mayor Colin Basran said city officials were actively working with Costco to ensure the new store, which employs several hundred people and pays hundreds of thousands of dollars in property taxes, would remain in Kelowna.