number of endangered species robbed of their natural habitat
estimated number of vehicles added to Naramata Road daily traffic
number of acres of forest & agricultural land that could be lost forever
What is Being Proposed?
Canadian Horizons' (CH) is proposing to rezone 126.4 acres of hillside wilderness above the Naramata Bench from Country Residential zoning (east circle marked in yellow) into a dense urban-style subdivision they call "Vinterra". The City Planning Department is currently in the process of reviewing the high density land use plan and technical reports submitted by Canadian Horizons' and will be bringing recommendations to Council on February 16th, 2021. This will be a closed meeting and not open for public input but can be viewed online. Then we will find out more about the public engagement process that has already been kicked off. Given the requirement to rezone the land, public input is required by the City zoning Bylaws. The subject property, 1050 Spiller Road, is immediately north of the the Campbell Mountain Landfill.
1050 Spiller is approximately 126 acres of which 15 acres is zoned Mobile Home Park Housing and 111 acres is RC Country Residential. Country Residential calls for minimum lot size of 1 acre therefore 111 acres less approximately 46 acres because of the 300 meter buffer leaves 65 acres and therefore less than 65 homes because they will need roads and unlikely they can subdivide perfect 1 acre lots. This zoning should remain in place and would allow for appropriate development for the area.
Canadian Horizons is planning to build a road from the 33.8 acres at 880 Naramata Road up the mountain. Vehicles from the development will emerge onto Naramata Road close to 880 Naramata Road. Ironically, the locals call this spot along Naramata Road "accident corner". It is in the vicinity of Red Rooster and Little Engine Wineries, where you have likely seen the piles of dirt, gravel and weeds for the last 2 years.
If the Canadian Horizons' rezoning is successful, there are two other large parcels of land for sale (marked in red and goes further North) that could also be developed, with an additional 90 acres and 72 acres respectively. This acreage is on the hillside between the Canadian Horizons land and Three Blind Mice.
Allowing the Naramata Bench to be developed beyond the current agricultural and rural density would forever change the look and feel of the area. It would take away from the destination as a sought after recreational area, affect wildlife, and negatively impact the agri-tourism business and Brand that has taken years to develop.
There are numerous areas in Penticton for high density housing projects and other housing opportunities that wouldn't encroach on agricultural areas or require this type of rezoning.
We are in favour of smart and sustainable development in alignment with the guiding principles of the Penticton Official Community Plan (OCP). Let's all work together as a community to alter the path of the developer and Preserve the Naramata Bench.
People who live close to municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills are exposed to air pollutants emitted by the landfill, gases containing methane, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulphide and other contaminants including volatile organic compounds, particulate matter and bioaresols. There is also an unhealthy risk of exposure to contaminated soil and water. Cancer, respiratory disease and acute respiratory infections among children may result from long term exposure. This site boundary has been proposed at a mere 300m from Penticton's Campbell Mountain Landfill. The property is exposed and susceptible to the smell of the dump, the garbage that blows onto the site and is close enough that the sounds of landfill trucks working can be heard from the proposed lots. For these and other health related issues it is the job of smart planning to discourage developments in such close proximity to landfill sites.
The wilderness above the Naramata Bench has tremendous value for wildlife including amphibians, reptiles, mammals and many bird species at risk. The subject property serves as a vital nesting ground and migratory route for several species of birds. The site is an extremely sensitive environmental area (ESA), most is ESA 2 or even ESA 1. It is a migratory route and winter feeding ground for the last herd of Elk in the Okanagan (Video of Elk on Naramata Bench), and for species at risk like Northern Flicker, Lewis’s woodpecker, badgers, and more. In the Okanagan, because of the population density in the valley bottoms and encroachment into the bench-lands and slopes, this development will hasten the extinction of some of the already threatened species. Given the abundance of wildlife and the sensitivity of species, it’s clearly evident that this development promises to be the tipping point for many of those species on the list.
Promises have been made from the developer regarding "affordable housing", 2000 jobs and tens of millions of dollars going back into the local economy. We are told that the tax base will increase, when in fact taxes will merely go up. As with all new urban sprawl, the costs to service more distant subdivisions will be subsidized by existing taxpayers in other urban areas of the city. We have been asking questions and are discovering what this development really means for the economy in our community and it's long term sustainability. Urban sprawl on the hillsides will destroy our brand as a city in a natural setting. Once the process of developing the hillsides is started it will continue, and we'll lose the very thing that continues to bring tourists here - the beauty of our natural setting. We want to ensure that the community knows the truth about how this re-zoning will impact the Naramata Bench and ultimately the City of Penticton. And it's not pretty. Environmentally, economically and socially this proposed development will have a net-negative impact on the region.
The Naramata Bench is noted for its diverse agricultural production. In fact, agriculture and agri-tourism are the essence of the Naramata Bench. Together they contribute approximately $170 million annually to the local and Provincial economies. Any potential development, either within the current agricultural lands or on the hillsides overlooking the Naramata Bench, could detrimentally affect the watershed that feeds the valley and consequently the area's economic contribution. The agri-food industry is a vital, interdependent component of our economy. A land base protected for agriculture provides opportunities for the expansion of farming and ranching for a growing population. Agriculture should be a foundational element in our future economic growth and development prospects. That perspective needs to be supported by both industry and politicians looking to our future well-being.
The Naramata Bench has world class tourism assets. It has already gained renown regionally, nationally and internationally and the number of tourists is growing every year with expanding tourism opportunities for the future.
The Naramata Bench is also garnering worldwide recognition as one of Canada’s premiere wine regions and as a top destination for wine enthusiasts.
The favourable climate and geological conditions that are optimal for growing grapes on the Naramata Bench are also favourable for people and serve to create a fantastic location to vacation.
Visitors rave about the stunning setting of the Naramata Bench, a multitude of wineries; exceptional restaurants and a variety of accommodation nestled within verdant vineyards with shimmering lake and mountain views.
Such is the magic of the region, a scarce and notable jewel in the South Okanagan that needs to be preserved for future generations.
What you can do
We have to ensure our lands are preserved or developed in a responsible way for future generations to enjoy. In the Napa Valley, 50 years of agricultural preservation led to a World-renowned Wine Region providing an annual economic benefit of more than $9.4 billion locally and nearly $34 billion nationally. The Naramata Bench contributes approximately $170 million to the local economies and has often been compared to Napa. With the same careful forethought for the preservation of the surrounding area we can preserve this unique terroir for future generations. Land conservancies preserve land for future generations, protect our food and water supply, purify our air, provide wildlife habitat, and strengthen our communities. In addition to health and food benefits, conserving land increases property values near greenbelts, saves tax dollars by encouraging more efficient development, and reduces the need for expensive water filtration facilities. Study after study has demonstrated the tremendous economic benefits of land conservation
What You Should Know
Write your concerns in a letter to the media
Contact your mayor/councilors - firstname.lastname@example.org
Participate in the public engagement process through the City of Penticton
Pass the information along to neighbours and friends
Become a member or donate to our cause
We are strong when we come together as a community
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