Peachland residents hold protest march against proposed multi-family development

March against development

Cindy White

Residents of a quiet suburban Peachland community held a protest walk Monday evening to send a message to elected officials.

They do not want the a 72-unit development proposed for an 18-parcel of land at the corner of Renfrew Road and Sherburn Road. Lamont Developments wants to put up 40 single-family homes and 32 townhomes. Ten percent of the townhouse units will be “flex units,” which are essentially secondary suites.

The protest march follows a public hearing last month where several people spoke out and wrote letters expressing their concerns over the size and scope of the housing project.

"This area is not currently zoned for multifamily residences yet we're looking to add in multifamily residences. There's also the talk of flex units, where they can be rented out. That doesn't currently exist in this neighbourhood," said Chelsie Jeal-McKay, who helped organize the walk down narrow Renfrew Road.

Residents argue the road is barely wide enough for two vehicles, let alone pedestrians. They also point out heavy construction traffic could destabilize the slope that sits just above Highway 97. Jeal-McKay points out that there was a slide along Renfrew Road in 2017, sending debris onto the highway.

"The entrance and exit from the highway onto Renfrew Road are a problem every day," says her husband Gord McKay. "Having ten years of heavy-duty machinery construction traffic up and down this road is a huge problem for us."

The couple moved to the area two years ago from Calgary partly for the peaceful lifestyle.

Jennifer Elizabeth recently moved back to the neighbourhood, but her family has had property in the Renfrew Road area for about 15 years.

She says that the development does not fit with the character of the community.

"I understand affordable development, but not every neighbourhood needs to be affordable. People are going to get in here at a fraction of the cost. They're not going to have the same values, they're not going to have the same appreciation, nor are they going to have the same lifestyle," she notes.

Jeal-McKay said she might accept the project if it were single-family homes and the number of units is reduced to about 30.

Another woman who lives just up the hill from the property said she is not opposed to the development, if the district improves the road, including access from Highway 97.

At the public hearing earlier this month, a developer representative said studies showed that the 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.

The project will require an amendment to the Official Community Plan and rezoning before it can go ahead. Peachland district council is expected to make a decision at an upcoming meeting.

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