Summerlanders spoke out about the controversial Banks Crescent development proposal at a public hearing on Monday afternoon and evening.
The hearing was held at the Summerland Arena Banquet Room and lasted six hours. More than 80 people, most of them opposed to the development proposal, voiced their opinions.
The development is a 424-unit seniors housing facility, to be built on land overlooking Okanagan Lake. The 5.7-hectare land for the development is in use as an orchard, but it is not in the Agricutlrual Land Reserve.
Representatives of the developer said efforts have been made to address public concerns about the project.
“I really hope you can listen to all sides of the project,” said Kirk Fisher, the project developer.
Jack Bray, vice-president of the Lark Group, said there are concerns about the proposal but “none of them are insurmountable,” he added. “How we manage risks is the most important piece of the equation.”
Olivia Chang, representing Saint Elizabeth Health Care, said the health care organization has 110 years experience in health care and is participating in more than 500 partnerships.
Trevor Massey of the Lark Group said Lark’s 45-year record is on display with this project. He said the Lark Group has been able to work with other projects where environmental concerns have been raised.
Yvonne Chaing of Surrey said the facility would allow her parents to retire to the Okanagan Valley.
Many of those who spoke against the development proposal said the project has merit, but not in the proposed location.
“I think it’s a great idea, just in the wrong place,” said Brian Udal.
Dave Carleton, president of the Summerland Sportsmen’s Association, said constructing the facility at the Banks Crescent site could result in landslide issues, similar to those in the Canyonview Road area.
“I’m not opposed to development,” added Mel Larsen, “I’m just opposed to this location in a ravine.”
She said the site would have only one entrance and exit, and the fish hatchery, on Okanagan Lake, could be jeopardized.
Others also spoke about the potential effects on the fish hatchery.
“Any risk to the fish hatchery is too much risk,” said Colin Rose.
Kyle Girgan, manager of the trout hatchery, said the hatchery has a consistent and stable water source at present. This water source could be at risk if the development is approved, he said.
Dave Mahovlic, who has worked at the hatchery for the past 30 years, is also concerned about the potential effects on the hatchery.
“Why does it have to be on top of an aquifer?” he asked.
Mark Siemens, who had worked at the trout hatchery for 23 years in the past, said even minor vibrations during the construction could affect the turbidity of the water, and thus put the hatchery’s operations at risk.
Some said the location is too far from the downtown core, and the hilly terrain is not suitable for walking.
Ellen Woodd, who lives near the proposed site, said the development would rival the density of Vancouver’s West End.
David Steele also believes the development is too large.
“It’s obvious it’s too big,” he said. “It’s completely out of place for Summerland.” He added that there are no developments of this size anywhere in the South Okanagan.
Jos Dronkers, who has been circulating a petition opposing the development for more than a year, said the community should examine sustainable housing rather than the proposed seniors housing facility.
“We should actively get the developers to build what we need,” she said.
However, others in the community believe the project would benefit the community.
Shawn Parks of West Kelowna siad there is a need for a project of this nature in Summerland.
Ian McIntosh, who lives across the road from the site, said there would be significant benefits from this development.
Anita Reles said the development proposal would help seniors, including her mother, find a place to live in Summerland.
Darren Sweet said the development would address seniors housing as well as jobs for the community.
“Our seniors need a place to live. Summerland needs jobs. Summerland needs housing,” he said. “If we don’t build it, where will our seniors and future seniors live?”
Sarah Scott said the development would bring jobs to the community.
“I support our youths and their right to an opportunity to live and work in the community,” she said.
The development proposal has been under consideration for a long time.
Sandra Paulson said municipal council has been examining it for “22 months of uncertainty” even though the proposal is not what the public wants.
“Council is elected to represent the citizens of Summerland, not the developer,” she said.
In addition to the comments received at the public hearing, Summerland’s municipal council has also received close to 1,400 pages of reports, petitions, letters and other correspondence about the development proposal.