Communities speaking up

Peachland residents have been outspoken recently in their opposition to Council development decisions. They are not alone in their disagreement, communities along the entire Okanagan Valley are vocally challenging the development and growth decisions made by local governments.

South, in Penticton, an active group of residents, friends of Skaha Park, laboured two years and saved their community parklands from development including a waterslide, parking lot and access roads. They forced their council to rescind its approval for the private development.

Summerland residents for sensible development is a fast-growing grassroots movement opposing council’s approval of the Banks Crescent senior’s development. Residents are in strong and vocal opposition to the complex’s location, it will interfere with the aquifers that feeds Trout Creek fish hatchery, responsible for replenishing the entire valley’s fish stock. So far, their resistance is successful.

Some residents in Lake Country formed save Gable Beach and are voicing their surprise and anger with council, while the government in Lake Country, during closed door meetings, considers selling a portion of public beachfront to private homeowners for $1.34 million.

Kelowna residents too are still opposing council’s January approval to build a tourist information centre on donated waterfront land specifically designated for parks. This large resident’s group has vowed to continue their challenge to overturn this decision, communities and residents groups up and down the valley are rising up speaking out and defending their parks, green spaces, public access, vistas and water features, Peachland included.

Residents understand the Official Community Plan states 3 stories along Beach Ave is the recommended height and should be followed; also, the pertinent zoning bylaws for parking and setbacks should apply. One neighbour along Beach Avenue stated. ”if PeachTree was any closer to the lake, it would be designated as a house boat! Yet, our council chose to approve the PeachTree development of 5 stories, limited parking and no setbacks. The process of the OCP required intense public consultation: because our mayor and council have not adhered to this plan, some taxpayers feel they are not being heard, believing their council is in breach of duty. The resident have spoken, the precedent of 5 and ultimately 7 storey highrises along the village waterfront is not desirable nor acceptable in OCP deliberations, nor for the future character of Peachland, it appears this issue, like many others along Lake Okanagan, will continue to be challenged.

Taryn Skalbania

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