Impact of development can reach far beyond the next door neighbours - InfoNews

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Impact of development can reach far beyond the next door neighbours

The impact of a rezoning application next to Kalamoir Regional Park may be felt throughout the region.
December 12, 2018 - 2:00 PM

WEST KELOWNA - At least Pete Bennett admitted it.

“I am a NIMBY,” Bennett said at a public hearing in West Kelowna yesterday, Dec. 11. “I don’t want this development in my backyard.”

It’s a common assumption that anyone who gets up to a microphone at a public hearing and says they are not against development is speaking the truth - as long as it doesn’t directly affect them.

The reality is, even some relatively small developments can have a huge and widespread impact on many people, not just those in the project’s backyard.

This particular hearing was for a 37-lot single-family rezoning application in the Casa Loma area of West Kelowna, just south of the Bennett Bridge along the west side of Okanagan Lake.

This application, in its various forms, has been in the works for seven years and has some unique elements because there is only one road in and out of the subdivision. It’s also on and below a steep slope overlooking Okanagan Lake and attracting buyers who can afford expensive lake view homes.

But what neighbours can offer at such public hearings are insights that councillors, staff and developers may not even think of.

Throw into the mix a slide area that may have sewage seeping through it, storm drainage that dumps onto a beach instead of into the lake, the popular Kalamoir Regional Park and the impact of the proposed development spreads further and further afield.

The people who will be the most directly impacted live in the 15 homes on a narrow stretch of Benedick Road – at the southern end of the subdivision. They face a major increase in traffic on a road that can’t be widened without making their driveways too steep to use. This road is already heavily used by cyclists, walkers and drivers who want to visit the park.

If the development goes ahead, it will provide 10 parking spots that will encourage more park visitors but may put those who walk or cycle to the park at greater risk because of heavier traffic flows. Some of these park visitors come from all over the Central Okanagan and even further afield.

Already there is so much congestion at the end of the road at peak times that garbage trucks can’t turn around on pickup days and have to back down the narrow road, one resident told council – providing insight no city planner or visiting council member would likely have outside the public hearing process.

Rather than just trash the project, Benedick Road residents recommended six lots be built off the end of their road and turn that into a cul-de-sac. The rest could be accessed off another road, Casa Palmero Drive, limiting the impact on Benedick Road residents.

Further down Campbell Road, residents talked about 1,000 vehicles a day speeding down the road. Seventy per cent of those residents signed a petition that went to City Hall a couple of weeks ago, asking council to set up traffic calming structures that were promised years ago.

That would affect thousands of visitors who stay at Casa Loma Resort every year.

One speaker suggested storm drainage plans be mandatory for hillside developments, as is done in other B.C. municipalities.

Another said guidelines on how many access roads are needed to serve subdivisions can’t be ignored.

“Don’t flippantly throw off that: ‘oh we’re going down the wrong road, we’ll just keep going down the wrong road’,” John Martin told council.

Both suggestions, if acted on, could lead to guidelines being turned into regulations affecting the whole of West Kelowna.

Then there were residents, like the NIMBY Bennett, who live on Lakeridge Drive on top of the hill, which has no road connection. They fear their access to Kalamoir Regional Park will be cut off.

And the president of the Friends of Kalamoir Park suggested the slide area be turned into a “viable and healthy ecological wonderland” that could be included in the park.

While the usual concerns about traffic and drainage dominated the almost three-hour long public hearing, there was no trashing of “greedy” developers that sometimes colour these meetings.

Council will make a decision on the rezoning application at a future date.

Given the messages sent from the more than one dozen speakers, council’s decision has the potential to impact far more than the current residents of the Casa Loma neighbourhood.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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