Now that Penticton city council has given the nod to the Skaha Bluff Area Boundary Extension, the city is offering residents a chance to find out more at a series of upcoming community engagement events over the next few weeks.
Ben Johnson, the city’s manager of special events, said the boundary extension is the first step toward a proposal to expand the Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park within Penticton’s city limits along with adding 180 homes to the community’s housing inventory.
“We hope residents will come out to the events to see what it means for our community,” said Johnson.
The public engagement sessions offer an opportunity to speak with staff and the developers about the plan to bring a 300-acre parcel on the south end of Penticton into city limits. Electoral approval is required, and city council approved the use of the alternate approval process, rather than going to referendum.
Under this process, at least 10 per cent of the electors, about 2680 residents, would have to petition against the boundary extension. If that happens, the city would have to run a traditional referendum to try to get approval for the extension.
The alternative approval process is already underway, and electors have until Oct. 31 to file an objection. Forms are available at city hall from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays, excluding holidays, as well as online on shapeyourcitypenticton.ca.
A similar process has been used in the Downtown Revitalization process to bring in local improvement taxes, but those were limited to the specific blocks in question, according to Anthony Haddad, director of operations.
To my recollection, over the last ten years or so … we haven’t used the alternate approval process,” said Haddad, noting that it has been “quite a long time” since the city has added a piece of land.
“The city hasn’t gone through an annexation since 1982, I believe.”
The first community engagement session takes place on Sept. 27 at the South Main Drop-in Centre from 2 to 5 p.m., with city staff in attendance.
City staff will also be at the Community Market on Sept. 30 from 9 a.m. to noon to review maps and discuss the vision for the area.
A family-friendly open house will be hosted by the developers on Oct. 5 in the Wiltse Elementary playground from 3 to 7 p.m. The Wild Sheep Society of B.C. will have a display and there will be a rock climbing wall for the kids.
If the boundary extension application has the support of the community and is approved by the province, the next step is to subdivide and zone the land. B.C .Parks will work with the city and the landowners on the proposed expansion of the park and plans for the residential development will move forward subject to council approval and community input.