Rampant development

More and more development, build, build, build. Everywhere you look in the Central Okanagan, land is being developed, subdivisions are springing up and a multitude of apartment and commercial buildings are being constructed.

Municipal offices must be wearing out a lot of their rubber “development licence approved” stamps. But hey, this is good, right? Developers are making profits, construction trades and suppliers are busy, and of course municipalities are increasing their tax base.

Or is it? Will this short-term gain result in future long-term problems? At the risk of being cynical, I see several such problems that could arise as a consequence of this rapid growth.

First; the sustainability of our utilities. Especially our water supplies. Every year, due to low snowpacks, increasing long, hot, dry spells, residents are asked to restrict water use. That raises the question: how will our water resources sustain the hundreds if not thousands of additional households that will undoubtably increase usage by millions of litre? The future effect on our electrical supply, garbage and sewage disposal are also in question.

What about our roadways? Even now, Highway 97 is extremely busy, especially when people are going to or from work. Secondary roads and residential streets are also becoming increasingly busy as increasing numbers of commuters try to either access or avoid highway 97.

Residential streets are becoming busy through-ways. Case in point is Wild Horse Drive in the Smith Creek subdivision. It has become a convenient conduit to the “highway feeder” roads, and therefore becomes very busy when people are speeding off to work and trucks are transiting to development sites.

No doubt the proposed construction of 1,500 or more new homes above Smith Creek will greatly exacerbate this situation. Greatly increased traffic with the attendant hazards will be inevitable, unless viable alternative routes are carefully planned and constructed. 

Lastly, will all this development transform our beautiful area into just another urban sprawl with all the attendant social problems? If this is allowed to happen, this area’s attraction for tourism and the relocation of families from other regions will be most likely gone. 

Hopefully, our municipal authorities have plans that will mitigate the down side of this rampant development. Any bets?

Michael Ludlam, West Kelowna

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