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Another clear-cut could be coming to the Naramata Hillsides

Updated: Jan 6


Another clearcut is coming up Arawana Road and likely more to follow.

This photo is not representative of RV park at this location, just used for illustrative purposes

Lot A outlined in blue is the RV campground in question. The south 1/3rd of the property is an ESDP area and will be phase II of this development. Lot 4 and lot 5 have also had an amendment to reinstate "campgrounds" so they could be future expansion of Pathfinder Ventures. Lot 3 is Vista Naramata.


Background


In 2018, "campground use" was removed from the RA zoning in Area E. The land was owned by Naramata Benchlands, the same developer as Vista Naramata.


In 2019, Naramata Benchlands Properties (Randy Kowalchuk) discovered this zoning bylaw revision. Naramata Benchlands submitted an application to the RDOS to reinstate “campground” as a principal permitted use for the properties located at 3440 and 3690 Arawana Road, and an adjacent unaddressed property, a total of 274 acres. .https://www.rdos.bc.ca/development-services/planning/current-applications-decisions/electoral-area-e/e2019007-zone/


In the application, the developer complained to the RDOS that the RDOS had done minimal advertising and consultation that Naramata Benchlands thought was appropriate (irony is that is exactly what the public complained about with Vista Naramata, to no avail).


In reading the application, Randy Kowalchuk makes a statement through his consultant, McElhanney, to the RDOS and "trusts that (RDOS) staff was aware of the gravity with lack of consultation and corrective measures must be taken" . The developer seemed to think he should get special treatment from the RDOS, and guess what.....he did! https://www.rdos.bc.ca/assets/PLANNING/AreaE/2019/007-ZONE/APP-SupportingDocumentation.pdf


Campground's were reinstated in the zoning bylaw despite many folks submitting feedback and valid concerns about fire, drainage, traffic and safety risks, ecological impacts, changes in hydrology with deforestation, environmental destruction of trees, flora and fauna, and an unsuitable road for large RV's. https://www.rdos.bc.ca/assets/PLANNING/AreaE/2019/007-ZONE/Representations-3rdAdopt.pdf



Campgrounds were reinstated in all of the subject properties in yellow




the RV park - 195 lots. Phase II on opposite side of RV park in an ESDP zone.


Zoning revision


Naramata Benchlands have now conditionally sold lot A to Pathfinder Ventures subject to getting this zoning approval according to the RDOS.


For Pathfinder Ventures to make this RV park "financially viable" to move forward they say that the current 30 day maximum stay must be extended.


They are seeking an amendment to allow for guest durations up to 182 days.


The Developer's rationale from their application for rezoning


Campgrounds limited to shorter stay durations tend to create greater impacts on the neighbouring properties as visitors to these sites are often rowdier and less considerate of other campers. Longer term campers, on the other hand, treat their environment and neighbours with greater respect. The text amendment if approved could attract a more desirable clientele that would act as better stewards of the land. Naramata small business will benefit from an increase to area tourism while maintaining separation from the town center. The challenges associated with an increase in tourism, i.e. traffic, impacts to housing rentals etc, will be avoided as tourists will be located away from the urban areas. https://www.rdos.bc.ca/assets/PLANNING/AreaE/2022/014-ZONE/SupplementaryInformation.pdf


The problem


There is no backup or proof of their rationale. But, there is more money to be made with longer stays according to Pathfinder's own Sedar reports.


According to the OCP, a Resource Area zoning like this land is supposed to:

  • Support Provincial policies on protection and use of working forests and grass land, and discourage development that might conflict with forestry, livestock and grazing operations and management, or protection if important habitat;

  • Support the OSLRMP as a means to ensure that local government concerns are addressed regarding visual, recreation, timber, range, important habitat and other resources in the Plan area; https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/crown-land-water/land-use-planning/regions/thompson-okanagan/okanaganshuswap-lrmp

  • Support only those open land recreation use proposals that clearly satisfy sustainable environmental, economic and social development principles, and demonstrate appropriate screening between potentially conflicting uses.

A dense RV campground that clearcuts the land does not meet the above policies or objectives.


Clearcutting destroys habitat for a wide variety of animals, including many endangered species. Birds, reptiles, and mammals all face habitat destruction due to clearcutting. Many of these animals have difficulty seeking out new habitats because the surrounding areas may be clearcut or filled with human inhabitants. Some animals have adverse interactions with humans, especially large predator species and animals such as raccoons which adapt readily to human encroachment on their habitat. Others are simply incapable of adapting and quietly die off. The effects often extend into the surrounding ecosystem as well, by removing a link in the local food chain.


Clearcutting trees may also lead to increased streamflow and there is a stream close by on the ESDP land that would be impacted by this clear-cut. This means that more water can enter a stream system. There are no trees to take it up and release it in the process known as evapotranspiration. With no trees to store part of the water, more streamflow can lead to more erosion, especially during times of high rain, melting snows, or other high-water occurrences. Additionally, clearcutting removes all the trees at once and it will take a while for that water and sunlight to make this area green up and recoup.


Clear-cutting is only the start, as seen on the active development property. They then strip all topsoil. Stripping of topsoil destroys all future potential use of the land for grazing and forestry, as well as destroying the natural environment.


Haven't we learned anything from Vista Naramata? Why is the RDOS ignoring the the evolving OCP guidelines on hillside development and the communities overwhelming concerns?


Arawana Road is not designed for RV’s, or large amounts of traffic, nor is Naramata Road. According to the RDOS "Arawana Forestry Road is a forestry road which is administered by the Ministry of Forests, and, the maintenance of the road would be undertaken by the private logging operator that is licensed to operate in the area. In that regard, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure would not administer the road, and the road would not be held to their standards. The Ministry of Forests is already in receipt of a bylaw referral as part of the application process".


Despite the mudslides, the lawsuits with recent developments, the destruction and the public outrage the RDOS are on the verge of approving another clear-cut.


Pathfinder Ventures are a publicly traded company set on buying up land to have RV trailer parks in the summer and winter. So likely, aside from a brief interlude to satisfy RDOS by-laws, this will be a year around RV park. Their goal according to their website is to buy "well positioned land assets with growth potential". That means the ESDP land opposite the RV park (15 acres) will most likely be made into a campground. Likely, the additional 224 acres to the west that have "campground" status reinstated are at risk for clear cutting.


Pathfinder Ventures says "challenges from tourism will be avoided with longer stays" in their application to the RDOS yet on their website they say "long term stays make no difference to increased tourism". So which is it?


Pathfinder Ventures has no supportive backup to their claims that:


#1) shorter stay durations tend to create greater impacts on the neighbouring properties as visitors to these sites are often rowdier and less considerate of other campers; or

#2) long term stays could attract a more desirable clientele that would act as better stewards of the land.


Reasons long term stays in RV parks are not a good idea


Research indicates the following negative impacts of long term RV parks :

  1. crowded and noisy

  2. electric or gas/water/sewage hook ups

  3. create more disturbance of the land and water - laundry/internet/pools

  4. exemplify consumer culture - not what our cittaslow area wants to be known for

  5. promote ATV's/motorcycles/snowmobiles - disrupts wildlife and neighbours

  6. RV parks in highly desirable areas rarely allow long term - it does not promote tourism

  7. long term means summer and winter; clearing out RV's for maintenance is likely only to comply with RDOS - Pathfinder's business plan is winter sales - can you imagine Arawana Road and RV's on the steep winter roads?

  8. long term RV parking is expensive

Fill out the feedback form below, send this information to your neighbours and friends, watch for upcoming public hearings. Refute Pathfinders' zoning amendment for revising the RV park from 30 day stays to 182 days.


One more chance to stop another clearcut.....yes, we need affordable housing, but we should not have to destroy the environment along the way.


Feedback Form:


https://www.rdos.bc.ca/assets/PLANNING/AreaE/2022/014-ZONE/FeedbackForm2.pdf



Vista Naramata above Naramata.




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