PENTICTON - Noise dust, lighting, toxic sprays and aesthetics are just some of the reasons why council shouldn’t choose Munson Mountain as a location for a BMX track, at least according to those who spoke out against the proposal yesterday.
Residents packed council chambers yesterday evening, April 4, to express their views in a protracted public hearing, which lasted nearly three hours, on the prospect of the city’s BMX track being relocated to 630 Munson Mountain Rd.
City staff tried to prepare for the meeting, handing out numbers to the more than 30 people wanting to speak about proposed zoning amendment on the property which would allow its use as a BMX track. The number for and against the zoning change was split about 50-50.
Penticton BMX Club President Andrew Bayston said a new track at Munson Mountain could add 100 new members to the club’s present membership of 75. He noted the track surface was durable and would not create dust, adding the club would comply with environmental guidelines and follow best practises for safety.
“It’s a beautiful spot, we want to keep it that way, but we want to use it and enjoy it,” Bayston said.
Several people insisted their issue was not with the BMX track, but with its location, calling its placement on Munson Mountain an 'inappropriate use'. Others feared lights would be installed, resulting in late night use, a fear downplayed by several BMX club members.
Fear unsupervised use of the facility would lead to problems and 'unacceptable risk' to the city, were also voiced, with some people saying the location would also add increased maintenance costs.
Orchardist Edward Swan said he isn't against BMX, but is against the location. He said he uses toxic sprays, which were capable of drifting up to a half mile, and maintaining toxicity for up to two weeks, depending on the weather during spraying times. He also noted the highway near Munson Mountain has been the location of fatal accidents in the past, calling it one of the worst corners in the city for accidents.
Council was also urged by Penticton resident Lynn Kelsey to delay making a decision, noting two councillors were missing from the meeting. She suggested council look at using one of the two Penticton schools slated for closure, adding that wasn’t an option available to them when the debate first began more than a year ago.
Council then took up the debate a short time after the public hearing ended, with Coun. Sentes admonishing those against the proposal for 'not listening', noting most of the detractors' concerns had already been addressed.
"The notion of peace and tranquility being disturbed is over stated," she said.
Mayor Jakubeit said new information brought forward in the public hearing 'changed the landscape' somewhat, and said he would like more time to study the issue.
"Both sides have made valid arguments," he said, noting adding another month of two to the decision wouldn't overly stall the project.
Coun. Konanz noted the lack of animosity displayed by both sides in the public hearing debate, calling the discussion a passionate one by both sides.
"No one is making this track out of cement. It is being made of dirt, so, as one speaker said, if it doesn't work, we can level it," she said, adding making the decision to make it a park with a BMX track was good for the community for now.
Coun. Sayeed said his concerns involved noise, noting bylaws were in place to control it, while Coun. Martin said he was prepared to move the issue along, although he also noted he would favour just giving the bylaws second reading.
"I feel confident the BMX Club is going to take care of it the way they said they would," he said.
Council voted in favour on both the necessary amendments on both bylaws, with only Jakubeit opposed. Councillors Max Picton and Campbell Watt were absent.
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