The municipality of Summerland is exploring the concept of an eco-village development near the community’s solar project. (District of Summerland image)

The municipality of Summerland is exploring the concept of an eco-village development near the community’s solar project. (District of Summerland image)

Summerland council to examine eco-village development

Proposal calls for housing near community’s solar site

Summerland is looking at expanding the community with a new eco-village project.

At the Aug. 9 council meeting, council unanimously voted to add the project to the municipality’s priorities with a detailed concept expected by December.

“On behalf of council, I am pleased to announce the addition of the eco-village project to our list of strategic priority projects,” said Mayor Toni Boot. “The development of an eco-village in the immediate vicinity of our Solar + Battery site complements our current priorities of infrastructure investment, active lifestyles, alternative energy and further confirms our commitment to sustainable and resilient development practices.”

The proposed eco-village would be developed on Cartwright Mountain where work for residential development, including initial environmental surveys, consideration of fire hazards, recreational uses in the area and adjacent landowner interests, were already explored.

Graham Statt, Summerland’s chief administrative officer, said the preliminary plan calls for 40 to 60 single family homes in the area. However, the number could increase if multi-family buildings are constructed.

He said the houses will be designed as environmentally friendly dwellings and will likely have solar panels on their roofs. In addition, the houses may tap in to the solar energy project in the same area. The houses will be connected to the municipality’s water, sewer and electrical systems.

“It appears feasible to do a responsible development at this location,” Statt said.

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The development proposal is for new homes to be built to a high environmental standard using alternative energy sources for climate resiliency and greenhouse gas mitigation.

“Summerland is moving forward in a sustainable direction,” said Coun. Tim Lezard of the Penticton Indian Band. “The concept for the eco-village aligns with the need to protect, preserve and enhance human interaction with nature. This is not a new idea and has been practiced by the Okanagan people for generations. This brings the way of living full circle and will pave the way for future generations.”

In addition to residential homes, the project could help support the creation of a sewer extension in the area, to service the nearby Deer Ridge area, alleviating environmental issues with private septic systems in that area.

The plan may also include formalizing the currently undesignated recreation trail system in the area, which may result in a new park designation that will protect a large portion of the mountain.

“As representatives of the Test of Humanity trail users, we are pleased to support the proposed eco-village project. We feel the protected area will ensure continued trail access for hikers and bikers,” said Nic and Shei Seaton. “The incorporation of a designated parking area will alleviate congestion on Morrow Avenue and create more opportunities for trail users. We are also excited about the potential for building a bike park in the future to help promote cycling for young riders.”

Statt said the trails will be designed to respect the environment in the area and to keep off of private land.

The next steps include the release of a request for proposals for the eco-village development concept, engagement with the community, and further environmental and engineering evaluation to refine the design.

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