Wants bench protected

On May 21, Penticton city staff presented the results from the public engagement on the Penticton Official Community Plan (OCP) bylaw and zoning changes.

My interest was the recommendation the OCP Task Force made to remove Spiller Road as a growth area from the OCP. Also, entrenching large lot sizes in an updated designation for rural residential.

The overall theme heard from public feedback was limit development on Naramata Bench, a desire for no development on the east hillside of Naramata Rd, concerns for environmental, wildlife impacts and traffic congestion, that a 0.4-hectare lot size is too small for rural residential designation and development of the hillside will impact tourist attraction to the area.

The feedback was clear—lot sizes need to be a minimum of one hectare, period—not reduced to 0.4 hectares if hooked up to municipal water. Even better, keep the current zoning along the east side of Naramata Road as is, a minimum of two hectares for agriculture and 16 hectares for forestry/grazing. Future land use densification should be removed in its entirety.

Public engagement feedback supported removing Spiller as a growth area by an overwhelming 80%, and almost 100% supported large rural lots.

The Penticton Indian Band, Interior Health, the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen, the OCP council-appointed task force, Grasslands B.C., the Society for Preservation of the Naramata Bench and public feedback all support this initiative. The engagement results made it clear the public wants one hectare minimum lot sizes or greater to prevent densification, urban sprawl, and protect this sensitive hillside environment.

City staff advised they have enough areas to build within the built-up areas of the city and no longer need the Naramata Bench as a growth area.

Coun. Heklena Konanz on the other hand, wants the Spiller Road area to remain a growth area and voted against first reading. She asked if the feedback forms were from locals in Penticton? What was she implying? Understandably, some feedback came from those who live on the bench. Should they not have a say in this decision? Konanz was sitting beside our mayor, who is from Naramata. Does he get to fill out a feedback form?

Konanz and all council have an obligation to look back at the public engagement from 1050 Spiller Road that was held less than two years ago in September 2022.

It was the best attended public engagement ever held in Penticton. There were double the amount of feedback forms received for the Spiller Road engagement than the current engagement.

Canadian Horizons’ application to build 111 single family homes on the 52 hectares they own at Spiller Road resulted in 71% of the public strongly opposed the development and the reduced density from 350 homes did not generate significant support from the community. Fifty-four percent were against any development due to the environmental sensitivity, traffic and local impact to the economy.

A public hearing is scheduled for June 3 at 6 p.m. Please attend via zoom or in person. It is imperative for the protection of the hillsides of the Naramata Bench.

Gjöa Taylor, Penticton

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