The Twin Lakes Golf Resort development is moving on to the next round.
Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen directors voted to approve an application for a development variance permit which reduces the amount of water needed for the first phase of the project.
Included in the first phase is the construction of 50 townhouses with a long-term plan to build over 200 homes in multiple phases.
Four directors; including Ron Hovanes mayor of Oliver, Peter Waterman, mayor of Summerland and councillor for Summerland Toni Boot along with Area G director Elef Christensen voted against the controversial development.
Neighbours have voiced concerns that there is not enough available water in the area to sustain existing homes and the new ones if the project moves forward. About 24 letters from neighbours and members of the Greater Twin Lakes Area Stewardship Society were sent in to the RDOS against the project.
Director Tom Siddon, representing Area D where the development will be built, stated it was time the developer was given a decision on the water variance, noting it was just one step in the process and not absolute approval.
The project dates back more than two decades. The water variance first surfaced in 2012. At that time it was deferred until a hydrogeological study could be completed. The study was submitted to the RDOS in January 2016.
Without RDOS approval of the variance from 8,000 litres for a single family unit/day to 5,500 litres the developer cannot apply for a water license from the province or move forward on a zoning amendment.
Prior to this proposed subdivision, little was known about the area’s water and Verna Mumby from the Greater Twin Lakes Area Stewardship Society urged RDOS directors to wait to make their decision until gaps in hydrogeological studies are filled in. She said that in the most recent hydrogeological study released in January 2016, several provincial ministries noted there was a lack of data and that her own “red flags” were raised by the report. In a delegation prior to the vote, developer Suki Sekhon assured directors that if concerns arose about water that the golf course would be the first to suffer.
“We’re more concerned about the water than anyone else,” he said. “If we run out of water we’re out of business.”
Hovanes said he voted against the development because of the vague language in the report.
“I’m not overwhelmed with confidence that there is an answer on whether or not there are water resources to support 50 new homes let alone 200,” he said.
He also noted that when a rezoning application came in from the developer outlining the finer details of the project he would be excluded from voting as he is not a rural director.
Waterman is concerned climate change is not being considered in any of the hydrogeological reports.
A zoning amendment application could be in front of the board within the month.