As finished houses begin to arrive at a local housing project, the developers have been working to not only maintain the surrounding oxbow but to repair some of its wear and tear from years past.
The Bow, a development on Penticton Indian Band land just on the east side of the Channel Parkway on Warren Avenue, already has a number of the 46 houses in place. Though prices haven’t been officially announced, developers are touting the project as more affordable because of the modular-style construction of the houses.
With the development working in an ecologically sensitive area, one of Penticton’s oxbows, the development has raised some concerns. But both the City of Penticton and Friends of the Oxbow said they have been seeing positive work around the natural area from the developers.
In part, the project is bound by provincial regulations on riparian areas, including the oxbows in the Penticton area, to protect the area as they develop.
“We were required to have certain setbacks from the oxbow, and we have to do a bunch of different exercises. … We had to track six female turtles,” Drew Barnes with the Warren Avenue Development Corporation said. “We also have to do vegetation restoration. And we also have to monitor plants, so we have to plant 300,000 plants, probably.”
Those plants will need to be monitored over the next couple of years to make sure they are properly taking to the soil. They will also have to implement a one-way turtle fence to keep turtles and snakes out of the development.
“We’re also going to be putting in some educational signage showing what species are out there, reptiles, birds, all that kind of stuff,” Barnes said.
Some of those include the six western painted turtles the developers had to track, which is an at-risk species.
All that work has involved consultations with various environmental engineers, including Columbia Environmental located on the Penticton Indian Band, as well as local Gordon Mackinnon of Wildrock Environmental Services.
“We took a bit of soils out of the oxbow. They were two bodies of water with a collapsed culvert in between them,” Barnes said. “Now they’re one body of water, so we took that silt out.”
When the developers took out trees, they also had some more strict regulations to work with, regarding migratory birds.
Barnes added that the Friends of the Oxbows had a look at the plan, and had their own input on the project, as well.
“We’ve been in contact with them all along. What they are doing is in accordance with the approved plan,” said Ray Halladay with Friends of the Oxbows.
“And a good part of that plan relating to the oxbows is just excellent, is in the process they will, in fact, be repairing what damage had been done there historically, some of it back in the time of the paddlewheelers. So they’re going to resculpt some of the bank.”
The development has a 148-year lease with the Penticton Indian Band to use the land, which Barnes said was the longest in the band’s history. It is also the first development in the area to be on band land while receiving servicing for utilities from the City of Penticton.
So while the band will collect taxes from the development for the lease, city hall will collect development cost charges and utility fees as part of the servicing agreement.
Two to four houses are coming from Moduline in Penticton per month, and then being put in place at the development, with a launch date of May 5.