Biologist questions impact of development

A fisheries biologist says a development proposed for the Banks Crescent area could have effects on the groundwater and the fish hatchery.

A fisheries biologist says a large development proposed for the Banks Crescent area could have far-reaching effects on the groundwater and Summerland’s fish hatchery.

The development plan calls for a 380-unit seniors’ care facility, above the fish hatchery.

Doug Wahl said his concerns are about the potential environmental impact of the development.

“As a professional biologist, I have a duty of care to raise issues that could affect natural resources,” he said. “The developer may tell you that everything is fine, but I am not convinced.”

Wahl, who lives on Latimer Road, near the proposed development, will also be affected if the project goes ahead.

The proposed development would be near the discharge point of a large aquifer, he said.

“You need to examine the risks before you think about rezoning,” he said. “I think it’s a question of whether we want to take those risks.”

Wahl said the hatchery is fed by Shaughnessy Springs, the discharge from a large aquifer underneath the town. He said the water reaching the springs has declined over time, which has staff at the hatchery concerned.

The developers, in a report outlining their proposal, have said geotechnical aspects will be addressed in the planning and construction.

“The planned buildings will not be built on the steep slopes,” a report from the Lark Group states. “The property contains environmentally sensitive areas. These will be protected.”

An engineer hired by the developer drilled several holes at the site and found little water. In a memo, the engineer reported that groundwater impacts are “anticipated to be limited.”

However, Wahl wonders if the scope of the developers’ consultants was too limited. If more extensive testing had been done, he said the test results and the engineers’ conclusions may have been different.

As a result, Wahl continues to have concerns about the effects of the development, should it receive council approval.

He said covering the site with concrete and pavement could have an effect on recharging the aquifer.

“Engineers, like any professional, can’t foresee everything on a project and they only assess what their client asks them to,” he said. “We know that engineers cannot guarantee the condo development will not impact the springs now or in the future.”