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Urgent call to help preserve the Naramata Bench - deadline April 14/24

Updated: Apr 7




Dear supporters of preserving the Naramata Bench.


We need your help.


We are very pleased the OCP Housing Task Force listened to the Society for Preservation of the Naramata Bench, Interior Health, Penticton Indian Band, and the community to remove "Spiller" as a growth area in Penticton.  BUT, It makes no sense to take it out of the “growth” area, and then change Rural Residential zoning from 1 ha to 0.4 ha’s.  It will turn it into a growth area!


Mayor Bloomfield said at the Council meeting reviewing the Task Force recommendations, that the OCP designation for minimum lot size for Rural Residential (1 ha) and Country Residential zoning (0.4 ha), in the OCP are contradicting each other.  Bloomfield wants the fix to be 0.4 hectare (1 acre), not 1 hectare. 

 

Much of the land along the east side of Naramata Road is currently zoned Forestry/Grazing (16 ha) and Agriculture (2 ha), and could be subject to major densification and massive tree removal/clear cutting.  Speculators and realtors already own a great deal of this land, as well as adjoining lands in the RDOS. That all but guarantees that the deforestation and densification will continue along the entire Naramata Bench up to and well past Naramata.


Blake Laven, Director of Development Services advised during the Council meeting that the current Canadian Horizons application was still moving forward and would not be impacted by the Task Force’s recommendation.  This means the 0.4 hectare lots and a mobile home park would stay in place for the Canadian Horizons land (52 ha’s).  This is a choice that the city has made.  The developer is well aware of the risks on this project, even advising their investors that OCP and zoning changes can occur that will limit their ability to proceed. 


Councillor Konanz feels the mandate of the original OCP from 2019 is to “unlock more housing”.  She wants to see the Spiller Road area fully developed.  Councillor Graham also concurred with Konanz but the vote was 4-2 to carry the recommendation further (Boultbee recused).  Neither of these Councillors (or really any of them except Councillor Watt and the Mayor) were around for the tractor protest, hundreds of letters to the editor, media coverage, and the 540 participants in the previous community shapeyourcity feedback.   Participants in the 2022 shapeyourcity overwhelmingly said NO to densification and clearcutting on these hillsides.


But there is a lot more at risk than just Horizon’s land. There are hundreds of hectares of land that could be chopped up into 0.4 ha parcels all along the Forests and hillsides of the Naramata Bench.  Blasting the hillsides, tree removal and clear cutting will have impacts on farm land and support potential flooding through significant erosion.  We are now seeing all the impacts of erosion on recent developments in the hillsides above Naramata.  Have you driven out there lately?  Take a look at what is happening to the hillsides.


Future land use in the OCP says that it “is supposed to retain the character and natural areas with high ecological value and steep slopes (our geotechnical study said the rock face of these hillsides are not suitable for blasting and will create major erosion down slope and lawsuits to follow). 


This is the home of the last elk herd in the Okanagan, the Greyback Elk herd.  There is a wide range of species at risk in this area found nowhere else in the world. 


We need your help.  The Shapeyourcity is circulating where the city is collecting input from the community until April 14th, 2024.  It can be viewed here: 



The most important part of this request is to complete the feedback form here:  https://www.shapeyourcitypenticton.ca/focus-on-housing/surveys/feedback-form


Online you can ask questions here, please ask them so others can see them: https://www.shapeyourcitypenticton.ca/focus-on-housing?tool=qanda#tool_tab


Questions 5 and 6 in the feedback form are directly related to densification of the hillsides along the Naramata Bench.  We need the support of the community to answer these questions, so that Council will vote to have the Spiller Road, or NE Sector removed as a “Growth Area” in the revised OCP.  We want the zoning to be a minimum of 1 hectare, not 0.4 hectares, regardless of water or sewage connections.


Question 5 should be a “yes”, you support densification in urban areas with transit and new growth, rather than in rural areas (ie Spiller Road).

 

Question 6 asks if you support the following amendments to the Rural Residential land use designation?

a) reducing the minimum lot size from 1 hectare to 0.4 hectare if connected to municipal water

b) A minimum lot size of 1 hectare for properties not connected to municipal water and sewer.

 

Question 6 is awkwardly worded and hard to understand. The Society for Preservation of the Naramata Bench has been advocating for a minimum of one hectare lot size for Rural Residential for along time. Even better, remove Rural Residential future land use altogether, and leave the zoning as is, Agriculture and Forestry & Grazing with large lot sizes.  So, the answer to 6 is NO or Somewhat, but add you don’t support Rural Residential to be reduced to 0.4 ha’s, for ANY REASON.


The Provincial Government has stated that once zoning is in place, NO MORE PUBLIC HEARINGS.

 

Thank you for helping us.  Together, we can make a difference. 


If you have not seen our video please take a look:


Map of lands below that could be developed into 0.4 ha lots that are currently zoned Agriculture and Forestry and Grazing (note: RC Country Residential is zoned 0.4 hectares).













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