letter to the editor

Letter: City staffer seems too enthusiastic for Spiller Rd. development

Letter writer thinks staff should be more balanced in their look at Canadian Horizons project

Editor

I must take issue with some comments attributed to Blake Laven, Penticton’s Director of Development Services, in your recent article: “Rezoning decision looms large for detractors of Proposed Penticton Development”

Firstly Mr. Laven believes there is a lot of “misinformation” being circulated amongst locals. A 76-page citizen-authored report on this development proposal was issued to the city of Penticton (including Mr. Laven) on Nov. 1.

Other than a curt “we are looking at it” from the City, there has been no communication that the report contains “misinformation.” Perhaps Mr. Laven could be called upon to elaborate on that.

Secondly, Mr. Laven offers that this property is one of the few remaining sites where hillside development would be allowed, and that “it is not fair to say that (this development) would lead to unfettered development throughout the rest of the hillsides”. I would remind Mr. Laven that I, and most others, do not oppose development of the site under its existing zoning as “country residential” which would permit only approximately 40 to 50 houses being constructed compared to the 324 in the current proposal.

I was at a Nov. 2 meeting with Canadian Horizons’ representative Nathan Hildebrand, where I requested he provide assurance that the company would not attempt to develop any properties further to the north. He refused to give meeting attendees this assurance. Ironically, two such properties are currently for sale, with advertising that alludes to “future subdivision development.”

Thirdly, Mr. Laven refers to the area as being important to “satisfy our housing needs.” Interestingly, the development was originally proposed to satisfy the City’s needs for “affordable housing.”

This reference is nonsensical, and even Canadian Horizons has now recognized this and refers to “attainable housing” – a weak attempt to obfuscate that the proposed homes won’t be affordable to approximately 80 per cent of Penticton’s residents.

Mr. Laven projects “hefty returns” for Penticton; however, It’s likely those perceived benefits could be negated by additional infrastructure and maintenance costs associated with this development. Also, have financial risks similar to the lawsuits that followed recent development projects near Naramata been considered? Will Penticton residents pay the piper while Canadian Horizons enjoys “hefty returns?”

Looming traffic concerns exist, as Mr. Laven concedes. Health and environmental concerns also accompany this proposal. The enthusiasm with which he welcomes this project should be balanced with an assessment of all relevant factors in his next media interview.

Ian Hornby-Smith

Penticton

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