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City of Vernon concept for Hesperia property shifts
The City of Vernon is walking away from a leadership role in developing a large chunk of land.
Council has decided to dissolve the city-owned Hesperia Land Corporation, which was created in 2007 to prepare 69 acres near Okanagan Avenue for private development.
“Maintaining the corporation has inherent costs and the world has changed drastically,” said Mayor Rob Sawatzky.
“The goals are not achievable in the future.”
The corporation was targeting 1,000 units of market and attainable housing when real estate prices prior to the 2008 recession made it difficult for many people, including professionals, to purchase homes.
However, plans were put on hold in 2010 because of a decline in construction and increased housing availability in Vernon.
While the city is shifting away from the corporation, Sawatzky says there is still a focus on attainable housing even though it may not be at Hesperia.
“We’re addressing those concerns in other ways,” he said, adding that Hesperia did not fit in with the concept of smart growth and building near the city centre.
“Attainable housing needs to be closer to services.”
Coun. Juliette Cunningham insists attainable housing goals can still be achieved at Hesperia even with the corporation gone.
“There is nothing stopping the city from deciding how parts of the property develops,” she said of the development approval process.
City staff will present options by April 22 and what should happen to the Hesperia site and selling it is one of the possibilities.
However, that is a concern for Coun. Mary-Jo O’Keefe.
“We have to get maximum value for the land,” she said, adding that the city has invested infrastructure in the property.
“We shouldn’t sell it at a fire-sale price to a developer who will hold it for 10 years (and wait for the market to improve).”