A local development company is largely opposed to the City of Penticton’s plans to restore Ellis Creek.
Cantex Engineering and Construction is requesting that the City amend the Ellis Creek Master Plan so they can go forward with a proposed residential and industrial development.
The restoration plan for the creek was implemented to alleviate flood risks and restore fish habitats.
Cantex plans to build 43 residential lots and 30 industrial lots on their property that is currently mostly a gravel plant at the east end of Okanagan Ave.
Ellis Creek runs through the property.
The company says the plans to restore Ellis Creek will interfere with their development and end up costing the City in the long run.
Cantex vice president, Neal Davies, expressed his concerns regarding the project Tuesday afternoon at council. Davies says the proposed new route of the creek would create a serious financial loss for his company’s project, as it would result in a 35 per cent decrease in land that is open for development. Davies called the project “uneconomical.”
“It’s been realigned and pushed into our property, not entirely but in some areas,” Davies said. “In addition to the realignment the (Ellis Creek) master plan is looking for a significant width and flood plain.”
Davies said he learned of the Ellis Creek Master Plan after Cantex’s plan had already been in place, throwing a wrench in the development plans.
“We’re fighting an uphill battle with something that came in after the fact,” Davies said of the creek restoration plan.
Davies also told councillors of the many predicted economic benefits of the Cantex project. He projected over $9 million in tax revenue for the city and over 300 jobs would be generated by the development.
Davies concluded his presentation by asking council to have staff work with Cantex to either exclude the site from the Ellis Creek master plan or tailor restoration efforts to accommodate the development as proposed.
Coun. Katie Robinson expressed her support for the Cantex project.
“I think we need to do everything humanly possible to promote that and work with you so that the greater good comes out in the end here for our community,” said Robinson to Davies.
Mayor John Vassilaki voiced his opinion that economic development should take priority over a creek that has “worked perfectly for the past 200, 300 years.”
“We do need those lots, both industrial and residential, and we can’t put aside all the economic development,” said Vassilaki.
Coun. Frank Regehr disagreed with the mayor, as he mentioned years of flooding concerns regarding Ellis Creek.
“There is work that should be done, some of the bridges are in challenged states, need work and protection, and simply the banks and the depth of the creek and some of the material that has washed down in heavy rains has partly changed the alignment of the creek,” said Regehr.
More information about the Cantex Development and the Ellis Creek project is expected to be presented by staff in a future meeting.