South Okanagan Regional District committee OKs Twin Lakes variance

Twin Lake is pictured in this July 2009 contributed photo. Residents fear a proposed development at nearby Twin Lakes Golf Course will put too much strain on the area's aquifer, noting the region experiences wet and dry cycles that have a pronounced effect on water levels in the lake.
Image Credit: Contributed

PENTICTON - Both sides have presented their cases to a committee of the South Okanagan Similkameen Regional District on a controversial subdivision variance at Twin Lakes Golf Course.

Golf Course owner Suki Sekhon and water systems consultant Mike Seymour made their pitch for reduced daily water consumption requirements for a proposed 50 unit subdivision on the golf course at a board meeting today, July 7.

The development has been opposed by a number of Twin Lakes residents who fear there isn't enough water in the aquifer to handle the development.

Greater Twin Lakes Area Stewardship Society spokesperson Verna Mumby presented for the group, who wished to see more study and monitoring of the watershed prior to allowing the proposed development.

Seymour assured the board they had proved there is an adequate water supply, claiming the golf course had cut water usage by 50 per cent.

Seymour said the impacts of the development’s water usage to the receiving environment would be “negligible.” Sekhon gave further assurances he was fully supportive of water conservation recommendations from the latest hydrogeological study, as well as the growth directives outlined in the Official Community Plan.

Regional district Chief Administrative Officer Bill Newell said the staff recommendation to allow the variance came from staff research and an assurance in the most recent hydrogeological report that there “should be enough water” for the first stage of 50 units to proceed. He also noted the application was to vary the subdivision bylaw, adding there was a long way to go in the process before a development permit could be issued.

Summerland Director Peter Waterman was concerned about provision for future climate change in the water consumption figures, saying there were “implications over time” more water would be needed.

Twin Lakes Director Tom Siddon said the matter had been studied thoroughly over the past eight years.

“There’s no such thing as absolute certainty of water,” he said, adding a moratorium should be placed on all development and water meters installed in existing Twin Lakes residences until the question is resolved. He said the developer was “entitled to an answer.”

Oliver Director Ron Hovanes expressed his doubts about the veracity of the most recent study, which stated water supplies “should” be adequate to meet the needs of the initial first phase of development.

The Planning and Development Committee voted in favour of the variance, directors Ron Hovanes, Elef Christensen, Toni Boot and Peter Waterman opposed.

The matter will come back to the regional district board July 21.

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