Each year, we pay taxes on our property’s assessed value, which is 30 per cent higher specifically because of our lake view.
We learned with dismay that our council has approved the development of two six-story condominium complexes and another four-story building that will block approximately 80 per cent of this view, and will have a similar impact on many of our neighbours.
Although we applaud the redevelopment of the old packinghouse site, the approval of this specific project raises several concerns around our public input process and the decision itself.
1. Given that this development will significantly devalue so many peoples’ primary investment, (their homes) was the notification process appropriate? There was no highly-visible notice on the property, no highly-visible notice accompanying our utility bill, no highly-visible notice in the local news. When a development decision has this great an impact on the long-term investments of others, surely a notice sent directly to the owners of affected properties would be warranted. We would have appreciated the opportunity to work together on a design that would have had less negative impact on local property owners.
2. Has council considered the impacts of traffic? Where will the extra traffic, especially during construction, go? The options are along the narrow and winding Lakeshore Drive by the playgrounds, or up the equally narrow and winding Solly Road, which is already caving in in some places and requires navigating the Y-connection, where it’s almost impossible to make a right turn from Lakeshore Drive.
3. The planned development is to be built on a narrow strip of swampy, sandy land at the bottom of a hill. If the soil is unable to support the weight of the buildings and those pools, will the taxpayers of Summerland be held responsible?
4. Is this the best use of this piece of property? Many communities have found it best to limit this sort of development on their valuable lakeshore properties, building instead on the opposite side of the street. It seems short-sighted for our Council, without broad community input, to choose this development over long-term public interest.
5. With that question in mind, it is my understanding that our community plan had to be modified to allow the development, and an amendment of this sort would require a public hearing. Setting aside the question of whether or not there is any point to a community plan if it’s easily modified, again, where was the broad public consultation to allow this modification?
I would have appreciated it if council had made a genuine effort to listen to people’s concerns prior to making such a hasty decision.
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