Penticton project doesn't fit

Penticton’s Official Community Plan (OCP) is a bylaw, a legal document like every other city bylaw. It was arrived at by consensus of the community after the largest public engagement exercise in the city’s history. Its policy statements are considered and meaningful.

A site specific policy statement in the OCP exists for properties from 556 to 736 Lakeshore Drive West. It states that “development up to a maximum of four storeys can be considered subject to urban design impacts on Lakeshore Drive and the waterfront, Lakawanna Park and neighbouring properties on Churchill Avenue.”

Clearly there is an intent in that policy for the nature of development that should occur at those addresses.

At the contentious Dec. 7 public hearing regarding the application to place eight 2000-square-foot condos on the small R2 lot at 602 Lakeshore Drive, that site specific policy received scant attention by the developer’s representatives. They cited condo properties at 402 and 452 Lakeshore Drive, as well as the Lakeshore Three towers as apparent precedents for their proposal. Did anyone on council notice that all of these examples are situated outside the site specific policy statement’s boundaries?

Does this proposal respect the neighbourhood and the ambiance of that part of Lakeshore Drive and the waterfront? Do the two rooftop “appurtenances,” which give the appearance of a fifth story, meet the design test when the OCP suggests mechanical equipment should be at ground level? Does their rendering on page 148 of the report, which shows people looking over the side yards from a private rooftop patio not invade the privacy of neighbours? Does placing a large building which needs variance requests on a small lot meet this or any policy test?

Shouldn’t council and the public be allowed to know the name of the developer, rather than being told by the city, when asked at the hearing, that although staff has been apprised, that is private information? Who are the CEOs of Rokm Developments, what have they built and what is their reputation?

By virtue of the OCP, the community has said a resounding “yes” to appropriate development, which this proposal is not.

Penticton has an unfortunate reputation as a place where we drink too much Kool-Aid from developers’ dispensers.

The council vote on Jan. 18 will reveal whether we are headed back to that rather bleak status.

Loraine Stephanson, Penticton

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