Thirty people turned out for a public hearing on 27 luxury homes proposed for Smythe Drive, which is en route to the popular Skaha Bluffs.
Painted Rock Winery owner John Skinner owns the acreage near his winery and has wanted to develop the area for sometime, originally wanting to place 65 townhouses at 375 Smythe Drive.
But Lakeside Road residents came out in opposition and the project was scaled back to its current proposal of 27 luxury single family homes that will overlook Skaha Lake.
At its last meeting, city council gave unanimous approval to the rezoning required subject to a public hearing, which was held on Monday night.
Randy Morris spoke on behalf of the 200 residents south of Skaha Lake Park, along Lakeside Road.
“We are here to ensure you get it right the first time because we don’t get a second chance at this,” said Morris to city council.
Morris said residents have four top concerns about the development.
The most important is traffic safety and the dangerous intersection of Smythe and Lakeside. The intersection is on a slight curve in the road at a blind spot with a solid yellow line turning onto Smythe from Lakeside.
The city has done an initial analysis, estimating it will cost $1.5 million to upgrade the intersection.
Donna Butler, of Ecora Engineering, spoke on behalf of the property owner at the public hearing. She said the 27 homes would increase traffic in the area by seven per cent. City staff recommends that the property developer pay 15 per cent of the intersection costs.
“Mr. Skinner is willing to pay 10 per cent of the share of the costs which more than covers the seven per cent increase in traffic,” said Butler.
In her remarks to council, Butler said Skinner has already put in $440,000 to improve access to Smyth Drive which has helped access to Skaha Bluffs and his winery.
“Mr. Skinner has demonstrated good will and has compromised on the amount of housing there. Listening to the Lakeside residents, the homes would allow for secondary suites but not carriage houses. He owns Painted Rock which employees 20 staff. He’s provided access to the two parks and is committed to resolving the intersection issue.”
She added that the development will include thorough work and required permits for geotechnical, drainage, environmental protection and forest fire mitigation.
Painted Rock Winery and Skaha Bluffs had to close down this August when the Mount Christie fire came very close to the area. Firefighters and less wind managed to keep it away from the vineyard.
Morris pointed out that Skaha Bluffs has 90,000 visitors a year and Lakeside Road is a tourist destination used by Gran Fondo and Ironman. The fire hydrants on Smythe don’t have enough water in them, Morris added.
“We dodged a bullet this summer,” said Morris, urging the city to upgrade the hydrants’ capacity.
Flooding is also a concern for the Lakeside residents.
The next step for the Smythe development is to go back to council for consideration of first and second reading approval.