The proposal by the Lark Group for a shared market housing complex tied in with a senior care health facility is something Summerland needs, and is reinforced by statistics released on our population of age 55 and over and being the highest in B.C. per capita.
However this proposal brings concerns of other properties to mind, which bear similarities and have had interests by developers as this latest one does.
The latest proposal is in an environmentally sensitive area, falling into the category of high hazard red zone stability.
This land is likely a catchment basin for the waters that flow beneath the ground to supply the Summerland Fish Hatchery with its fish rearing capabilities.
Because of its unique temperature and quality, this source demands environmental protection. Inevitable recontouring of the land and adding considerable paved areas can hardly be considered sensible for this prized and important source for our trout hatchery’s needs.
The hatchery supplies fish stocks to many mountain lakes within our area.
I think an environmental impact study would not meet council or the provincial government’s criteria at this present site, let alone the complexities of building in a high hazard red zone.
This is too large a project for this location.
Half a mile north is another plot of land with similar situations. This area leads downhill towards the Irvine Adams Bird Sanctuary. The surrounding area is noticeably wet and produces some visible springs and wet lands. The land that faces development some day is located midway up Switchback Road and generated opposition for its inability to provide suitable traffic increases both in and out of the development.
Being close to Peach Orchard Road, it offered access to shopping uptown with safe passage under Highway 97, something the current proposal fails to do.
The latest proposal would affect traffic in the area and would not provide an easy access into town.
Other areas present better options. One is the plot of land cornered by Turner Street and Victoria Road North.
This land does not appear to be a viable agriculture operation and some of the fruit trees along the western boundary next to Victoria Road North stand in deep water each spring due to poor drainage.
Locating the market housing along the perimeter of Thompson Road and possibly along the northern perimeter of Victoria Road North would provide pleasant views for owners while leaving room for the remaining buildings and parking needs.
This area is close to town and shopping and would allow residents to maintain their independence and existence for healthier living.
For the developer the costs would be lower because of the proximity to existing services.
With this development creating 200 plus jobs, Summerland may finally start to grow and contribute to the reopening of some of the stores now closed, setting a path for future sustainable growth.
The OCP should be revisited and revised to improve protection for sensitive areas by possibly increasing lot size or limiting number of housing starts in the affected areas to reduce density. Careful consideration for projects like the latest must be addressed by council, and other options should be presented to encourage a working relationship between developer and council to consider all aspects.
Gordon and Mary Dunsdon