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Council open up future densification of the Naramata Bench - Public Hearing Results Sept 12, 2023

Updated: Sep 24, 2023

Video of portion of 80 acres to be developed at 1530 Reservoir Road

On Tuesday, Sept 12th, a public hearing was held at city hall to hear from the public on the developer’s application at 1530 Reservoir Road. This property consists of 32 hectares of land (80 acres) and is located to the south of reservoir road and east of upper bench road. The application for development consists of 33 homes + carriage homes and will be a bare land strata (like an HOA). The developer has requested a site specific OCP amendment from 1 hectare (2.47 acres) to 0.4 hectare (1acre) minimum lot size under the Rural Residential “future land use designation” based on connection to city water. In otherwords, the city planning group are suggesting 1 hectare lots are only for sites that have their own water wells and septic. This is not accurate. The rationale in the OCP for larger lot sizes is to keep the character of the countryside and to preserve agricultural land and green space. Currently Rural Residential in the OCP states 1 hectare (2.47 acre) minimum lot sizes. The developer is asking that the land be rezoned from FG (Forestry Grazing) 16-hectare minimum lot sizes all the way down to RC (Country Residential) 0.4-hectare minimum lot sizes. The reason the developer can apply to rezone Forestry and Grazing so significantly is because this land is within the NE Sector “future development” and subject to “future land designations”.

The hearing was well attended by the public and all those that spoke at the hearing were against the project, with the exception of Drew Barnes, the developer. All submissions that were sent in to the public hearing, around 13 of them, were against the development. The issues the public voiced at the hearing were similar to the publics concerns in the shapeyourcity process. The major concern was allowing the OCP amendment from 1 hectare to 0.4 hectares, and how this could open the Naramata Bench up to future densification in the countryside. Concerns were also raised about building in the fire intervention (tree line) area, and using rural, agricultural land for development at huge environmental, social and economic costs. The public identified key concerns respecting climate change, drought considerations, erosion and water run off to farms below, seepage of septic to farms below, need for smaller, more affordable home options for locals.

One speaker addressed concerns about a compost/biosolids site that is going to an RDOS public hearing that will service 8 different RDOS areas, and bring large trucks hauling human waste up Vancouver Avenue or Upper Bench Road to Reservoir Road. This is the third attempt to get a compost/biosolids site and if successful, how will it impact this development and traffic on a super dangerous intersection to the landfill? The public hearing for the compost site for the Rezoning of 1313 Greyback Mountain Road will be held on Thursday, October 5, 2023, at 7:00 pm, at the Penticton Seniors’ Drop-in Centre - Ken Wignes Room, 2965 South Main St, Penticton, BC.

The shapeyourcity results were not communicated to council in the meeting which seemed very odd and very inappropriate. The Coles Notes of the results were 56% of the public said no to 0.4 hectare (1 acre) lots, 65% had concerns, and 59% were opposed or strongly opposed to the development. Council, other than Miller, ignored these results.

The developer's plans indicate all the homes will be built in the tree line, or fire interface, and they will be clustering the homes to try and keep as much of the land as undisturbed as possible. The infrastructure and maintenance costs will be borne by the residents of the strata, and not the city of Penticton tax payers. The developer’s low-density approach may reduce the risk of watershed issues to the farmers below. The developer will be encouraging sustainable building and will follow natural topography rather than clearing and levelling the site. They have gifted 5 hectares (12 acres) of steep, Environmentally Sensitive 1 & 2 land to the city for parkland. Corridors will be put in place through the strata to connect to trails in Campbell Park.

The developer, Drew Barnes, is on the OCP task force. One of this committee’s jobs is to make recommendations on the future land use designations in the OCP. The future land use designations in the OCP for rural residential are contradictory and confusing. Members of our rural community have been lobbying the city planners and council to designate “Rural Residential” as minimum 1 hectare lot sizes and apply it across the board for the entire NE sector. They have also asked to have the NE Sector removed from the OCP as a growth area. The NE sector is Penticton’s largest land holding (land from this reservoir road area out to Three Blind Mice). This developer assured the public at the meeting that he recused himself from discussions on “Rural Residential” future land use designations. The OCP task force will be making recommendations about future land use density in our countryside and the 242 hectares or 600 acres of undeveloped land in the NE Sector. Our rural community needs to pay attention to what this task force of 13 members appointed by council including 6 builders, and 2 former campaign managers, are up to. Please attend the shapeyourcity sessions coming up, it will be important they hear from you:

Currently there is no set requirement in place for PIB approval. Applicant met with PIB and are collaborating with PIB according to city staff.

Councilor Konanz made it a point to thank all of those folks who were in favor of this development but didn’t have time to attend or participate in shapeyourcity because of their busy lives, work, or family commitments, as none of them bothered to show up.

We would like to thank all of you actually made the time, showed up and participated even though you also have busy lives, work and have family commitments. Thank you for speaking in public (I know it’s not fun), sending in submissions, participated in shapeyourcity, the badges – thank you Lori G., and the insightful letters to the editor. Please don’t let being ignored by 6 of our 7 city councilors and mayor stop you from getting involved and speaking out. Look what happened to Ford's about face on the greenbelt in Ontario.

This is the link is to the public hearing and to the council meeting after the public hearing. You will need Google Chrome to listen to the video. Go to the video, and on the right side of the video scroll down to 6:10 for the public hearing and 6:55 for the council meeting. It works better on a computer than a smart phone. Special thanks to James Miller, who was the only council member who even asked about the shapeyourcity results and stressed consultation with the PIB, whether it’s a set requirement or not. The resulting vote was 6-1 with Miller voting no.

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