Proposal to build mega subdivision above Naramata Bench fails to gain council support

Click to play video: 'Developer revises controversial subdivision plan' Developer revises controversial subdivision plan
WATCH: The proponent behind a large subdivision in the hills above the Naramata Bench has tweaked its proposal ahead of a rezoning application before Penticton mayor and council on Feb. 16. – Feb 9, 2021

A hopeful plan to build a massive subdivision in the South Okanagan crashed into a political brick wall on Tuesday.

A City of Penticton spokesperson said council opted not to proceed with first reading for the subdivision, and its 300-plus homes, above the Naramata Bench in Penticton, B.C.

A Surrey-based real estate company, Canadian Horizons, had proposed the subdivision, featuring single-family lots along 163 acres at 1050 Spiller Rd.

Read more: Penticton Indian Band speaks out against proposed mega-subdivision on the Naramata Bench

The subdivision, though, was opposed by area farmers, residents and the Penticton Indian Band.

Notably, protesters gathered outside city hall on Tuesday.

“It’s environmentally unsound,” said opponent Grant Lake.

Story continues below advertisement

“Penticton should be continuing to expand in the downtown core for greater density. This is not housing that’s going to solve any issues for residents in Penticton that need housing and it’s just going to bring people in from outside.”

The Penticton Indian Band’s former chief, Chad Eneas, came out against the proposal in October.

“The Penticton Indian Band does not approve, consent, or in any other manner agree to the proposed development at 1050 Spiller Road.”

Click to play video: 'Developer revises controversial subdivision plan' Developer revises controversial subdivision plan
Developer revises controversial subdivision plan – Feb 9, 2021

On Tuesday, city communications manager Philip Cooper said council opted not to proceed with first reading of a zoning amendment bylaw, meaning the project doesn’t have city support.

Story continues below advertisement

“The decision not to proceed with first reading was unanimously agreed to by all members of Council,” Cooper said in an email.

“The view of Council indicated a project of that size, in that location, was not a good fit.”

If council had given first reading, then the process of exploring the merits and challenges of the proposed development would have started, including community engagement.

Follow the link here to see an earlier release from the city regarding the engagement process.

In a statement to Global News, Canadian Horizons said it was very disappointed with Tuesday’s decision by mayor and council.

Click to play video: 'Tractor rally against development' Tractor rally against development
Tractor rally against development – Sep 16, 2020

“As we have stated several times during this process, we have been diligently working on this project for over 10 years,” said Nathan Hildebrand, vice president of development for Canadian Horizons.

Story continues below advertisement

“We have undertaken every study and answered every question that has been asked of us by current and previous councils, staff, and the community.”

Hildebrand added that the proposed development is in line with the city’s 2019 official community plan.

“There has been countless hours of staff time put into this proposal which was reflected in the report Staff put together and the details outlined in it.”

Hildebrand said the company is going to look at its options, adding “I feel bad for those individuals and families who are looking for a new home in Penticton in the coming years as your options just became less and more expensive with this council decision.”

Sponsored content