Open letter to Canadian Horizons, the Stewart Group and other developers.
It has become obvious that there is a lot of opposition to the proposed development of 880 Naramata Road and 1050 Spiller Road. Already, in 2014, Penticton residents made it clear that they don’t want to see more urban sprawl. Residents would rather support the protection of our natural environment and the strategy to increase densification in Penticton.
Canadian Horizons has created another development in Penticton, Sendero Canyon, where the developer made a profit. Now they have an opportunity to give back to the community. Seeing the opposition against the development west and north of the Campbell Mountain landfill is increasing, I would like to suggest another use for this land.
Leave the current zoning as is and work with it. This land could be sold to the Land Conservancy of BC (TLC) or BC Parks Foundation Nature Trust or other conservation organizations to create an eco-tourism destination. This could include the following:
· Designate the Thompson Okanagan Tourism region as part of an international Biosphere Reservation designation. This could be Penticton’s contribution to nature conservation above the Naramata Bench, (https://www.totabc.org/biosphere-commitment) bringing international accreditation. As such the Spiller Block could become a satellite of the future South Okanagan National Park, where birds, mammals, and insects can leapfrog to, increasing their chance to find habitat year-round.
· Build trails for summer or winter, with signs along the way educating about the natural features, guided and self-guided tours, (compare with Osoyoos Desert Centre), connecting the Three Blind Mice trail system and Campbell Mountain.
· Develop a lodge for cultural and eco-exhibitions, conferences, day programs for families, a nature school for young children, day care programs for children in summer, (compare www.thrivingroots.org, Victoria). A small café for refreshments, 500 m away from the landfill.
· A campground operated like a Provincial Parks campground, protecting trees and sensitive areas. More campground space is needed in summer, built at least 500 meters away from the landfill.
· Winter access would be restricted to protect elk and moose who find rest here and give birth to their young.
· An opportunity for local tourism businesses to benefit from the creation of much needed tourism infrastructure and family friendly tourism attraction. Local companies like Hoodoo Adventures can use the space for their programs for children and adults, for summer camps, corporate and group events.
· Species at risk find protection.
· Birds at the landfill will thrive, scaring away and hunting starlings and robins in the vineyards and orchards below, and find protective habitat for raising their young.
· Jobs will be created for teachers, scientists, students, park maintenance, etc.
· This park needs limited water and wastewater service, septic fields, and low water washrooms.
· Fire protection through educated park and forest floor management.
· Traffic access through Spiller Road and Reservoir road, will eliminate increased traffic along Naramata Road.
· Canadian Horizons can improve their public image, Nathan Hildebrand can make his children proud of the newly developed park instead of urban sprawl.
It is time to give back to the community and to recognize that we live in a new time.
Other Land Use Options
Other land use options available for consideration may include;
Create a land trust similar to models used in other farming areas to preserve the land for agricultural use. Examples of this:
*Napa Valley Agricultural Preserve; this area rests primarily in the valley between the cities of Napa and Calistoga with other pockets around the county. It originally protected 26,000 acres of the valley floor and foothills. It has since grown to more than 32,000 acres. Beyond the protection of the valley floor, the county also designated a huge area as “Agriculture, Watershed and Open Space,” (AW zoning) which is also protected, and in some ways, even more so. Together, the two represent 91 percent of the county’s 505,859 acres.
*Marin Agricultural Land Trust in California. Conservation easements are put in place that allow the farms to continue. In so doing, it allows for local food to be produced much of which is organic, economically viable agriculture, habitat and connectivity for more than 100 species of wildlife, scenic, climate-resilient landscapes, the heritage of the area and a cherished way of life. This is considered a win-win because the ranchers could still afford to ranch and the conservation was allowed.
*Create an Environmental land reserve.
*Create a series of hiking and bike trails to be used by the citizens of Penticton and visitors to the region.
*Create a municipal campground.
*Create an outdoor education facility