LETTER: Development decision should be based on facts

Making decisions based on facts improves desirable outcomes.

Dear Editor:

I am a biologist by training as well as a public administrator, having worked for various levels of government for over two decades. I am also a consultant to the Lark Group, having advised them and or assisted them in the development of thousands of seniors’ residences and long term care beds. I have helped plan or deliver over $5 billion in social infrastructure.

I am trained not only as a biologist and public administrator but also as an evidence-based designer, using facts and real world demonstrated evidence to make better design decisions.

Making decisions based on facts improves desirable outcomes.

The proposed development will improve the quality of life for its residents, reduce their use of the health care system and provide high quality environments which will be safer and more appropriate.

A compact set of buildings on the vineyard portion of the site will improve the ecology of the area and will preserve the steep slopes and environmentally valuable 60 per cent of the site. Grape vines are not native to the Okanagan. Compact housing improves the quality of ecosystem by increasing green space.

With respect to Summerland, I wanted to summarize the following facts:

1. The proposed development will likely be the largest employer in town which is important when Summerland is aging, the population is shrinking and the number of young adults is declining.

2. Schools are closing due to declining enrolment.

3. New jobs and new younger adults are needed to make the community sustainable and to increase the number of shoppers in downtown.

4. Not everyone wants or can afford a single family house. The trend worldwide is to build multi-unit dwellings to allow for better efficiency and to increase green space.

5. The proposed development will meet or exceed all safety and building requirements.

6. The proposed development will improve the fish hatchery.

7. Only 40 per cent of the site will be built on, leaving 60 per cent preserved as green space.

These are all facts. There are many rumours floating around that are based on conjecture or fear of the unknown. This is not the way to build a community, to create jobs, to protect the work of the hatchery, or to preserve the environment. A focus on quality, high standards and proactive action will build Summerland.

A few years ago I led a team that developed the Royal Jubilee Patient Care Centre, a 500-bed, elder-friendly inpatient building. The rezoning raised some concerns. A few years later the Patient Care Centre is an asset to the community, is supported by its neighbours and has received national and international recognition. This experience makes me confident that the same will happen in Summerland.

I encourage you to make your decisions based on facts, on proactively mitigating all risks and on a positive vision for what Summerland can be.

Rudi van den Broek