Controversial Naramata development back on the council’s agenda

Controversial Naramata development back on the council's agenda

A controversial Naramata development is back on the city council’s agenda after a period of public engagement.

In May, developer Canadian Horizons proposed a 111-family development at 1050 Spiller Rd. This was Horizons’ second time proposing a development for this area, having proposed 300 homes in 2020.

“More than 500 people have provided input for the proposed residential development of 1050 Spiller Road,” the City of Penticton’s press release read.

“With results showing strong resistance to the current proposal, but nearly half of respondents are open to future development with more stringent conditions.”

Preserve Naramata Bench Society, a group of residents who oppose the development, is very outspoken about their opinion.

“Enough, time to draw the line and say no more development,” said Preserve Naramata Bench starting member John Bilodeau.

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The group was first formed in 2020 when the original development was proposed.

“We were behind the tractor rally in 2020 when 30 tractors drove into town and we gave speeches, we are part of the banners expressing our concern that you may see driving past Naramata Bench,” said Preserve Naramata Bench Society Director Gjoa Taylor .

At Tuesday’s council meeting, Penticton city officials will present the results of the public engagement process and a development update.

“One recommendation we’re presenting to the board on Tuesday is that those engagement results be included when we review land use applications,” said Audrey Tanguay, planning and licensing manager for the City of Penticton.

“That is very important and that is why I wanted to go through the engagement process.”

According to the city, 54 percent of the 502 participants are against any development in this location, mainly because of the potential impact on the environment and the local economy.

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An additional 16 percent fully support development, while a further 30 percent support development under the following conditions:

  • Bring city water to the area,
  • Sufficient attention to road safety,
  • Reduce the infrastructure problems (i.e. rainwater),
  • Protect more natural grounds and wildlife,
  • Supporting green building and tackling climate impacts,
  • Have a mix of larger rural lots that are transitioning, and
  • Make sure that the density and development is in line with the environment and contributes to the brand awareness of the area.

Although opinions on the development in the area are divided, 71 percent of the participants are against the proposal.

“We have a lot of people on our side,” Taylor said.

“We have First Things First, a local climate change advocacy group, 42 business owners along Naramata Bench and Penticton, Naramata Slow Society, Interior Health, the Penticton Indian Band and the RDOS are still advocating a 500m buffer near the landfill.”

The city attributes the opponents to several concerns, including: traffic, landfills, the wildfire interface, housing affordability and potential environmental impacts.

Since the engagement process, Canadian Horizons has decided to withdraw its zoning and OCP land use change applications and submit a new application.

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“We have not yet reviewed the new application that we have just received, but it follows existing zoning plans, so at this time there is no requirement for OCP change or zoning change,” Tanguay said.

“Potentially fewer homes, they’re looking at potentially 50 single-family homes and as far as the mobile home park is concerned, they’re looking at 50 to 60 homes, but again, we haven’t reviewed the application yet.”

The current zoning plan is a mix of rural residential and mobile home park zones.

“The zoning has been in effect for the property since the late 1970s,” Tanguay.

“People may wonder why a mobile home park. Well, in the 1970’s there were a lot of mobile home parks implemented in Penticton and that was one of the areas they were looking to implement one.

City officials will review the application in the coming months.

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