I have been reluctant to wade into the controversy regarding the recent destruction of the MacPherson Meadows/Willowglen area off 87th Street in Oliver, but feel as a citizen of Oliver I must add my voice to that of others and ask “What were these developers thinking” and “what have they done”?
The answer to what the developers were thinking may simply be that they were trying to circumvent the soon-to-be re-enacted Oliver bylaw on environmental and riparian development permits. As to “what they have done”, from my perspective they have done the following:
They have totally destroyed an area teeming with insect, bird, plant and wildlife. The two developers through their actions have purposely removed, on one property alone, two-plus acres of carbon dioxide-absorbing plant life. This has been done when society is now aware of the very real problems of climate change and how very valuable this kind of life is in reducing greenhouse gas. This property acted as a natural system to ameliorate the effects of that change.
They reduced greatly their chances for sale of the said properties.
As was done with the Forbes’ property, this property could have been kept in its natural state. With partners, along with interested citizens willing to assist in financing its acquisition, it could have remained a gem in our landscape. That chance for sale is now gone.
The only hope for it now is perhaps that another developer such as those looking at the Desert Hills development may see the advantage of moving their development to this site, where there is easy access to infrastructure and no need to pump water etc. to the development. Those attributes might offset the costs of the fill which will be necessary to bring the now destroyed property up to grade.
In the past year, Oliver has taken on a new vigor and glow as the town council, various groups in the community and the citizens have come together to make Oliver a greener, cleaner, more livable and attractive community. A community where visitors, businesses and the population alike will flourish. What the two developers have done will not dampen our spirit but their actions were an affront to all of us who have worked to make it an even better place to live.
In closing, I would like to offer a road to redemption for all. If this property could become a green development all would not be lost. It could be an example on how a development could become sustainable through the use of solar power, geothermal heat and green products in its construction. We have close at hand in Penticton at Okanagan College available advice, skills and expertise to do this. It would also have to have landscaping which would: have low water usage, encourage return of the plant life, birds, bees and insects so vital to our ecosystem. The joy is we also have those experts available locally that could guide the way.
Betty Lou Trimmer Bahnsen