Locals say updates to proposed development on Naramata Bench are 'not enough' and 'disappointing'

Development still a concern

Casey Richardson

A proposed residential development above the Naramata Bench recently came out with changes after hearing public input, but the new plan still isn’t sitting well with some locals.

Feeling like the Vancouver-based company, Canadian Horizons, has missed the mark with their updates, community members continue to bring up concerns.

“My initial thought is that it’s not enough. You know, thats not, I don’t think the changes that were made are what the community was looking for,” Lyndie Hill, a member of the Preserve Naramata Bench Society said, adding there are still concerns with agriculture, environmental, traffic, health and tourism.

The development, now officially titled "Vinterra" on its website, has moved the total number of lots down from 355 to "about 307" and including more conservation and park areas in site the plan.

“I was really disappointed, I didn’t think their new proposal was really any different from their original proposal. They’re still asking for over 300 homes. They’re asking for city-sized building lots...in the middle of the country and I don’t think that's really appropriate for this area,” David Kozier, a grape grower in the area, said.

Kozier's land sits right below the planned development and is worried about the ecological impact on the area.

“I’m really concerned about rock blasting, which has been an issue at the Kettle Ridge and the outlook developments in Naramata and that created a lot of groundwater issues,” Kozier said, claiming that properties below were flooded and vineyards were saturated. “I’m concerned about our vineyard and the potential problems.”

Both Kozier and Hill also are worried about the wildlife who use the hillside as their home.

“They’re here from December through April, grazing in this area and they access these hills by going across Canadian Horizons land. If Canadian Horizons is turned into 300 homes, those elk won’t have access to this area which is important habitat for them, ” Kozier said.

The total proposed site will now be "45 per cent preserved," according to Canadian Horizons vice president Nathan Hildebrand, either through park buffer or through Endangered Species Act habitats like wildlife corridors and open space.

Hill also expressed that the process feels rushed in her opinion, and more options should be explored. Right now, she said, many residents feel the zoning for the property should remain in place, keeping the country area intact.

“I would love to look at all of the options and all of the bigger picture ways to utilize our natural assets that we have, that are built into the OCP (Official Community Plan) that we do talk about setting us aside from other communities.”

“We need to have smart growth in the urban area and protect this beautiful landscape that we have,” Kozier added. “People don’t come here from Vancouver or international to look at 300 homes up on the hillside. People don’t go on a subdivision tour.”

As Canadian Horizons has stated no further plans to receive public input and moves forward with their adjusted plan to present to city council, Hill encourages residents to get involved.

“What I would like for the community to know is that it’s not too late. It’s not too late to know all the information and it’s not too late to have a voice. And that goes either way. If you support this or you don’t support it, just have a voice,” Hill said.

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