UPDATE FROM THE SOCIETY FOR PRESERVATION OF THE NARAMATA BENCH – March 26/23
Horizon's subdivision plan with 300 metre setback from landfill - 49 lots (1 acre), 68 mobile home lots. Darker green is no build/no disturb, ESA 1 is lighter green, ESA 2 is green crosshatch, grey cross hatch is ESA dedicated area
How is this proposal different from the previous Proposals?
The first proposal submitted by Canadian Horizons' (CH) in the fall of 2021 included the building of 320+ homes on small lots, all with carriage houses. It included a proposed 300 meter buffer from the landfill and a secondary road off of Naramata Road at 880 Naramata Road. CH requested that the City of Penticton change the OCP and zoning to increase the density. Council unanimously rejected the proposal on February 16, 2021.
The second proposal was submitted by CH the beginning of 2022 and included the building of 112+ homes on mostly .5 acre lots. Again, all with carriage houses. It also included a 300 meter buffer from the landfill but with no secondary road leading off 880 Naramata Road. The City of Penticton reviewed the application and decided to conduct a detailed Public Engagement. The results of the Public Engagement showed that :
80% of the public were against the proposal by Canadian Horizons;
54% of public were opposed to any development at 1050 Spiller Road due to environmental sensitivity and local impact to the economy;
30% of public support some development with conditions; water brought to area, mitigate storm water concerns, address road safety; support green building, protect wildlife; ensure density matches surrounding area and development contributes to the brand of the Naramata Bench; large rural lots;
16% of public support development.
CH subsequently withdrew and resubmitted their proposal in August of 2022.
The current proposal is described below. In summary, it includes the construction of 121 lots consisting of 49 houses on 1 acre lots (with carriage homes) as well as 68 trailers located in a dedicated mobile home park. This proposal fits the current zoning and does not involve asking the City to change the OCP or any of the other regulations. It does however, have many of the same issues that were brought up in the Public Engagement.
Despite huge public opposition from their last proposal, we are now being told there is little that can be done to stop the clear cutting of 11,245 trees and the scraping of 72 acres of land, in order to achieve CHs' plan.
How, do you ask, can this be allowed to go forward? The answer, it seems, is in a 40 year old bylaw that still remains in place on the property and has up to this point, enabled Canadian Horizons to move seamlessly forward with their plans.
When does appeasing developers take precedence over what is best for a community? It seems when fear tactics, such as the threat of litigation, clouds common sense it inevitably places the people in Penticton vulnerable to the fallout this development will inevitably cause.
Let's come together (again) as a community and ask our elected Council to stand up for what the people of Penticton told you in the public engagement results. Ask Council to say no to Canadian Horizons when they vote on the hillside permit.
Current Status of Canadian Horizons' Spiller Rd Development
We have recently been able to obtain the latest development application submitted in August of 2022 by Canadian Horizons' (CH) through a Freedom of Information Request. CH have applied to the City for Environmental and Geotechnical permits, as part of their Major Development Permit for Hillside Development. They have also applied for subdivision approval. The only application that will go before Council is the Hillside Development Permit. This is expected to happen sometime in the spring. We have just received the new Reports that are part of the CH application (Environmental, Geotechnical, Traffic, Wildfire, Tree) and will be reviewing them. At first glance, there are lots of concerns with the consultants reports paid for by CH.
There is no ability for the public to be involved in the Council meeting where the Hillside Development Permit will be approved or rejected. The only hope is too convince Council and city planning staff prior to this meeting, that the public are not onside with this development, for so many reasons, and Council, city planners and the Approving Officers for the City should reject it.
Mayor Bloomfield has stated that when the developer bought the land, land that Bloomfield, as a realtor sold to Canadian Horizons, it was like a promise to the developer to be able to build under the current zoning. But that zoning has been in place for 40 years. It is not current with the OCP zoning for Country Residential which is 1 ha, not 1 acre. It is an outdated bylaw that supports urban sprawl, and does not consider the unique character of the Naramata Bench.
The Mayor and council are concerned if the subdivision is rejected, the city will be faced with a lawsuit. But Kelowna met this head on and said No To Canadian Horizons. And what about the potential for lawsuits if the blasting of rock and storm water runoff impact the farm land or wineries that live below the development? Isn't the preservation of this special area worth defending a lawsuit over? There are solid, legitimate reasons stated below that allow the approving officers to reject this subdivision.
Application Details – an evolving process
CH have applied under the current zoning, 1 acre Country Residential lots (126 acres) and a mobile home park (13 acres). Carriage houses will also be allowed, so 2 homes per lot. The lots are narrow, and homes will be side by side like they are in a subdivision. Some of the lots have an no disturbance, no build Environmentally Sensitve land in the centre of their lot with building envelopes on each end.
The design is evolving as the city reviews it. There could be from 31 to 49 - 1 acre lots and 62 to 72 mobile home lots. The number of lots will be impacted by the landfill setback of either 300 or 500 metres. CH wants a 300-metre buffer to the landfill so they can build more homes. The RDOS, the Province, Interior Health and the SPNB support the 500-metres buffer setback. Building closer to the landfill could expose the city to litigation.
CH have applied to clear-cut the entire area with the exception of few small pockets of ESA1 and ESA2 land.
Access to the development will probably be from Reservoir Road.
CH at this time is unable to get a secondary access through the RDOS landfill. So, they may try and not have a secondary egress. If the city insists on having one, it is unclear where it would go. It is also unclear how a new, secondary road impacts emergency egress for wildfire. The wildfire report has wildfire as “moderate risk”.
CH are currently only proposing to pay for water infrastructure. If they do not connect to City sewer it may mean community septic or individual septic to each lot. It is unclear.
Water reservoir will be within 200 meters to the landfill. Unclear if this will pass with Interior Health.
Enhanced lighting and clear site lines will be built into subdivision.
Homeowners will be left to decide on sustainability and climate appropriate designs.
Storm water runoff will be directed to Strutt Creek, and discharged to open ditches. This is also unclear because CH has no direct access to Strutt Creek . CH claim the run off into Strutt Creek will remain the same as predevelopment levels. But with the removal of absorbing ground cover and trees with new roads, driveways and downspouts all directed to Strutt Creek how will this additional run off impact the agricultural lands downstream?
2022 Geotechnical Report
The geotechnical report is currently being reviewed in detail.
Interior Testing, the consultant hired by CH, in their contract limits their liability to $50,000 and no claim can be brought against them more than two years after their report is complete.
If you were a City Councillor, how would this statement below from Interior Testing's report make you feel (revisiting lawsuits and disasters at Outlook and Kettle Ridge...and now Vista Naramata mudslides)?:
“considering the shallow bedrock, sloping terrains, and increased development density at the proposed mobile home park, disposal of stormwater to ground by concentrated infiltration points (ie. rock pits and drywells) is generally not recommended in this area. Roof drainage could be directed to a suitable disposal location such as splash pads for gradual dissipation over the ground surface. In all cases, storm water should not be directed to any FILL soils, and instead should be disposed to suitable natural soils, or onsite storm systems, to be designed by your civil engineer.
Interior testing is alluding to risk but offering no real solution and taking absolutely no responsibility!
A 30% slope is recommended in the OCP vs. a 50% slope recommended in the Interior Testing Services report. The report even states that "development within steeper areas (>50%) could be feasible".
ESA1 and ESA2 and conservation areas will be seriously disturbed considering that almost every lot will need grading. What an ecosystem disaster. That would mean the end of the elk - too noisy, too many trucks and traffic, no room from them with the weak corridor and the loss of their habitat.
2022 Environmental Report
Overall, the revisions from the 2020 Environmental Report to the 2022 Environmental report are few and far between. In other-words, Makonis, the consultant hired by CH only changed a few words, except in a couple of key areas, where the revisions are concerning. It appears from reading the report that they have not physically been to the site since September 2021, and the majority of their visits were in previous years.
Very little attention has been given to the ecosystems that would be eliminated by the clear-cuts including the wooded coniferous forest, steep grasslands, mature coniferous forest and talus slope. Suggestion of wildlife corridors and fences keeping the Western Rattlesnake from encroaching on the subdivision seem poorly thought through. Also, this land is where the Elk habitat, and discussions on 50 metre corridors are weak solutions, especially when one of the corridors ends at a road in the development!
The 2020 Environmental report states the site supports 9.9 Elk/ha and the Elk potential will decrease by 73% to reduce the Elk to 2.7 Elk/ha .
The 2022 Environmental report states the site supports 9.9 Elk/ha and the Elk potential will decrease by 15% to reduce the Elk to 8.4 Elk/ha.
How can the Makonis Report have changed so drastically?
The 2022 Environmental Report states overall, the Elk might not be expected to use the site in the future. Thats the reality of this subdivision. The Greyback Elk herd will be gone.
Penticton Creek Bighorn Sheep
A stable population of bighorn sheep are known in the Penticton Creek area east of Campbell Mountain. Historically there have been observations on the east and south flanks of Campbell Mountain. All the studies in the Penticton and Okanagan all point to avoidance of human conflict by the bighorn sheep. Given the agricultural areas to the west, recreational, industrial landfill site to the south, and residential to the east, is a possible reason why bighorns have not been seen on the subject property. Obviously, a subdivision here will solidify the bighorn sheep avoiding 1050 Spiller Rd.
The area for the Lewis’s woodpecker mapped on Spiller Road subject area is 20ha or 40% of an entire home range for a single nest pair.
The 2022 Environmental Report says The proposed RSM development of 1050 Spiller Road overlaps the Critical Habitat delineated for Lewis’s Woodpecker on the Spiller Road property. Under the current zoning the entire 5.9 ha would most likely be impacted for development of the mobile home park.
The 2020 Environmental Report states that the proposed rezoning of 1050 Spiller Road overlaps the Critical Habitat delineated for Lewis’s Woodpecker on the Spiller Road property. A total of 18.6ha of defined habitat is proposed to be impacted. However, the majority of that was seen as low-value habitat and little potential of attributes. To offset this proposed impact, the higher value habitat seen to the south and east on Spiller Road is to be kept as natural habitat, 22.5ha.
So which is it Makonis, 5.9 ha's or 18.6 ha's that will impact the Lewis Woodpecker nesting area?
Reality check on the impact to the environment
Fragmentation of the landscape often affects the functioning of ecosystems by disrupting connections between different ecosystems (e.g., between uplands and wetlands, resulting in changing water movement and water table levels). Fragmented ecosystems also are more susceptible to a variety of impacts, such as invasion by non-native species, increased access and land erosion. In addition, disconnected islands of natural ecosystems, like suggested in the Spiller development application often cannot provide the necessary habitat values for wildlife species, which may require a number of different ecosystems for breeding, wintering, and foraging.
Makonis suggests fencing in 3 wildlife corridors through ESA1 and ESA2 Areas, corridors that pass through the centre of 8 lots, and border a majority of the lots. One of the corridors stops at a road cutting through the development. And how will homeowners have an ESA1, no build, no disturb area in the middle of their lot with building allowed on both sides? Who will police the residents who buy lots with ESA 1 no disturb areas in the middle of their lot? It is a not sustainable plan.
Much of the information is out of date and based largely on analysis completed in 2020 and (sort of) updated in 2022. The time period most of the information was collected was the height of covid, and the assumptions could be invalid because of this (site visit was Sept/20).
Completely missing from the CTS traffic report is an assessment of traffic issues which will be caused by inevitable development north of Spiller Road. We have not even seen the impact of the new developments at Vista and Outlook and the proposed new RV park at Arawana road.
Road access considerations
Regulations state that for more than 100 homes, two points of access are required. Since Spiller Development far exceeds this minimum, a Multi-Use Path (MUP) connection to Naramata Road is required. The MUP will be designed and constructed such that in case of emergency, vehicles will be able to use the MUP for exit only purposes, the grade being too severe to allow inbound access. In the event of an emergency if 200 or more cars were required to evacuate via Naramata Road, this would create severe problems, and possibly require SUV's to negotiate the track. Also it is pretty likely that any evacuation order would also apply to the entire Naramata Bench so traffic from the Development could create massive log-jams at the intersection with Naramata Road. Who will pay for the construction and maintenance of the MUP and if the RDOS won't allow access, how will this egress path be constructed?
A weird statement, in a cover letter for this material, is that they will build a "modular home park subdivision". Will this be like the one near the water treatment plant, where the little golf course used to be? (I believe it was called Pleasant Valley.) That one is not a mobile home park - it's a subdivision of not-inexpensive houses built from kits. There's a big difference, and that "pre-fab" house subdivision is not exactly affordable housing.
They continue to press for a 300m. buffer.
On P. 9 there are two mentions of the benefits of the "southwest access road" as an emergency exit. As if to say that it will need to be built to a certain standard, and then maintained by the City, is how I read it.
The writer goes into a lengthy description of the groundcover/forest on the property, never mentioning that it will be clear cut. So what's the point of that? Then they proceed to include lots of photos of the beautiful surroundings that will be cut to the ground to build their houses. (That really shows you what will be lost if this goes ahead, duh!)
Landscaping recommendations are similar to last time: Driveways will be a fire-mitigation device; lots of people will live there and help fight any fires.... ha ha ha ha sure, after they are all ordered to evacuate before they're trapped. (Like Heritage Hills a couple of years ago.) Small shrubs only near homes. Watered lawns around the properties will help mitigate fire risk. Great - but with large lots, how big will these lawns be and how much water required in summer for that?
Last, the Fire Threat Worksheet is from 2013. Ten years old. Why don't they have to update it?
11,245 trees would be removed on 26 ha (64.2 acres).
risk of catastrophic wildfires because there haven’t been any naturally occurring wildfires over the last 10-20 years.
wildfire risk as moderate overall, with a low wildfire risk in the area designated for the mobile home park.
Not included in the survey are the 300 meters offset for the landfill, and the no-build-no-disturb areas and wildlife corridor areas.
there are no dead trees, and all trees look healthy.
What are ways this subdivision application could be rejected by the City Approving Officers?
The subdivision approval will be signed by the City Approving Officers, Blake Laven and/or Audrey Tanguay. Either have the ability to reject the subdivision for various reasons. Below are just a few reasons the Approving Officers can reject CH’s subdivision application:
if Naramata Road or Reservoir Road is not sufficient to handle the additional traffic;
if the subdivision will affect the environment to an unacceptable level (one might think that the clearcut being twice the size of Vista Naramata, removing habitat for the Greyback Elk herd, removing habitat for several species at risk, blasting rock on slopes of 50% despite the OCP recommending no greater than 30% slopes, disturbing ESA1 and ESA2 areas given grading required are all enough reasons);
if the city’s costs to maintain the new infrastructure are excessive; (maintenance costs for infrastructure this far out of the city are excessive and won't be covered by taxes; utility rate increases might be needed).
if it will unreasonably interfere with farming operations on adjoining properties (lawsuits with developments at Outlook and Kettle Ridge are a result of this)
Or, if the development goes against public interest. For example, will this massive clear-cutting of the hillsides along the Bench and building a subdivision impact the Naramata Bench negatively as an economic powerhouse that attracts tourists to Penticton?
What happened to the results of the Spiller Rd. engagement process last summer?
The SPNB recently met with city planners and asked them what happened to the OCP review for the NE sector as indicated in the Spiller public engagement last summer? The city will have a new task force looking at all land use designations for Penticton and changes to the OCP that will apply to all future development. It is possible this task force could look at zoning issues between Country Residential in the current bylaw (1 acre) and the OCP (1 ha).
Horizon's subdivision plan with 500 metre setback from landfill - 31 lots (1 acre), 68 mobile home lots. Darker green is no build/no disturb, ESA 1 is lighter green, ESA 2 is green crosshatch, grey cross hatch is ESA dedicated area
What can you do to make a difference?
Apply to Join the Task Force for OCP review – it is critical to the future of Penticton’s Land Use Designations – deadline is March 24, 2023
Contact Mayor and Council:
Contact Media, Letters to the Editor:
My Naramata – Editor: Deb Linton –email@example.com
Castanet Editor – Chelsie Powrie – Chelsea@castanet.net
Western News - firstname.lastname@example.org
Penticton Herald – Joe Fries - email@example.com
Penticton Now – Dale Cory – dcory@NowMediaGroup.ca