Some Peachland residents expressed opposition to proposed development during Thursday's public hearing

Public hearing heats up

A major development proposed along a narrow, rural road has some Peachland residents worried about their safety.

At a public hearing Thursday, more than a dozen residents in the Renfrew Road area, near Hardy Falls, expressed a variety of concerns about a proposed 72-unit development.

But it was traffic on Renfrew Road that came up most frequently.

The road isn’t busy, but it is narrow. In some portions, a school bus and a vehicle going the other way can’t get by one another. Pedestrians and cyclists are often at risk. Landslides have occurred along the road, people told council.

Paul Fenske with the planning and development firm Placemark, said the development company, Lamont, heard about the traffic concerns and commissioned additional assessments.

The assessments confirmed the new project would add a maximum of one car per minute on the road for a total of three cars per minute during the busiest times, he said.

But those who who came to speak at the hearing didn't appear to be convinced.

“The development doesn’t fit in the community. We don’t need multi-dwelling here. Renfrew Road cannot handle the traffic,” said Jennifer Elizabeth.

Referring to the developer’s claim the proposal was well received at a previous public meeting, Leslie McKellar responded: “I don’t know what meeting he’s talking about where he said it was well received. The heat in that room, you had to turn the air conditioning on because the roof was being raised. These residents are very angry.”

She said the road needs widening. An emergency access route proposed by the developer is not adequate, she said, although some other speakers welcomed the new route.

Some expressed concern about increased traffic during construction and noted other developments are also eyed for the area.

"We’re going to put up with 10 years of filth and trucks coming here and degrading it … I’ve had it,” an angry McKellar concluded.

One person wondered if the developer will repair damage done to the road during construction. A few speakers said the development was too big.

The development on 18 acres will include 32 townhomes and a variety of single-family homes according to a presentation. Ten per cent of the townhouse units will be “flex units,” which are essentially secondary suites.

“It would be nice to have houses there,” said Jason Manning. “It would be nice to have a little neighbourhood, but I don’t think having townhomes and that density there is consistent at all with the neighbourhood … Scale it down.”

Noting her family moved to the area because it was rural, a Renfrew Road resident said: “I understand creating more housing opportunities in Peachland is a laudable goal, however I do not believe it should be done at the detriment of those who already call our district home.”

On her second turn at the microphone, Elizabeth added: “Why do we need to grow so fast? More people more problems. Before we know it, we’re gonna have problems of theft, homelessness, higher crime rates.”

William Manning, who lives next to the development site, complained “the view from my living room will be a brick wall.”

Fenske, the developer’s spokesman, noted one third of the development site will be parkland, although others noted some of that land is so steep it couldn’t be developed anyway.

“The land sits well above Hardy Falls Regional Park with panoramic views over Lake Okanagan,” said Fenske during a 10-minute presentation.

Council will make a decision on the proposal at a future meeting.

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