LETTER: Property should be developed carefully

I am somewhat shocked to discover that the proposal to amend the OCP and rezone 13610 Banks Cres. has proceeded as far as it has.

Dear Editor:

I am somewhat shocked to discover that the proposal to amend the OCP and rezone 13610 Banks Cres. has proceeded as far as it has and seems to have support of the city council to continue to development.

The current council was elected on a platform of protecting rural farmland and directing development towards the city centre.

This development is the opposite; proposing to locate approximately 800 residents at the end of one single narrow and steep access road with virtually no walkability to the town centre, while removing farmland zoning; this is urban sprawl, not current best practices of condensed town centres.

Environmental hazards within the building site include the Red Zone, an Environmentally Sensitive Area and impact on the water supply for the Summerland Trout Hatchery which is more than a mere tourist attraction, it supports a $100 million industry in B.C.

There is also an enormous risk to the local infrastructure. The traffic study commissioned for this development referred to Solly Road as a collector road but it is identified as a Local Road on OCP Schedule F Transportation Network which therefore invalidates the traffic study.

Solly and Latimer are narrow roads with poor or no shoulders, sidewalks and curbs. Additionally, Solly is steep, with blind corners.

Neither of these roads were designed or built to handle the volume of traffic that both construction and future residents will create.

The damage to the infrastructure from the volume of traffic will put the taxpayers of Summerland at risk of liability when houses need to be repaired and the streets need to be rebuilt.

The developer has offered to widen Latimer and install a sidewalk. I’m not sure how many seniors are going to be able to use a sidewalk that hits a 19 per cent grade and will require a three-kilometre hike to town.

I would challenge the city council to park their cars at Highway 97 and Solly Road and walk to 13610 Banks Cres. and back. Along the way take note of the steepness, blind corners, poor road surface, lack of shoulders, sidewalks and curbs, as well as areas were the side of the road has been eroded by rain run-off.

None of this is going to be quick, inexpensive or easy to upgrade to the standards required for the volume of construction trucks as well as new resident vehicles.

Jobs created by this development will be filled by folks from outside Summerland.

Summerland does not have a labour base to begin to fill a small percentage of the construction and post-construction positions.

This property should be developed gently and within the scope of the OCP; with due respect to the Red Zone, the Environmentally Sensitive Area, and the trout hatchery, as well as ensuring a road system and infrastructure that can support both construction and habitation. Any development should be not age-restricted but market housing to encourage younger families to move to Summerland to help ensure Summerland’s future growth.

Dave Courtemanche