Traffic volume at the intersection of Okanagan Road East and Davidson Road were among the concerns of nearby residents to a proposed townhome development. Photo credit: Barry Gerding/Black Press

Townhouse project moves forward

Lake Country councillors voice concerns about protecting district’s rural lifestyle integrity

Lake Country council has moved an Okanagan Centre Road East townhouse development one step closer to final approval.

Council gave third reading to a rezoning change to allow for a five-building, 19-unit complex at the intersection of Okanagan Centre Road East and Davidson Road, a proposal that has drawn opposition from nearby residents.

Coun. Penny Gambell said she is concerned about issues raised from area residents at the public hearing last month about how this development would disrupt the otherwise rural residential lifestyle of the area.

Gambell said the Official Community Plan, currently undergoing an update, talks about the importance of Lake Country retaining its rural character, while there is also a need to provide more affordable housing options for what is the fastest growing community in B.C.

“The question I guess I ask myself is where do we stop with this,” Gambell said, reflecting on the urban-rural conflict within a growing agriculture community.

“I put that question forward because I wonder about the tone we are setting with regards to future decisions of this nature.”

The development proposal is for a property currently zoned RU-1, single family residential which would allow for up to 16 subdivided residential lots on the two-acre parcel. The developer wants that zoning changed to RM-2 to allow for the townhouse project.

Gambell said she feels the townhouse option is preferable to the single family lot development, citing how 16 homes could see their basements converted to rental space.

“Instead of talking about 16 homes, in that situation you are now talking about 32 residential units,” she said.

Count. Bill Scarrow said he shared Gambell’s concerns about the urban-rural conflict the townhouse proposal creates.

“I have been going around in circles thinking about this over the last few weeks,” Scarrow said.

“But it doesn’t sit well with me to further delay this as we have an existing OCP in place and it calls for urban residential in this area and that’s what this application calls for.”

Scarrow said smartly planned growth still means change, and change brings resistance, and that resistance is often reflected by those most closely affected by that change.

“I feel badly about making a compromise that people feel will affect their lifestyle, but I feel the fears they have are greater than what actually will happen when this change actually occurs.”

Coun. Blair Ireland also acknowledged the rural lifestyle disruption that the townhouse project may pose, but he felt 19 townhomes was a better option for land use than 16 homes with potential rental suites.

“Change is not always fun but change is going to happen,” Ireland said, noting the OCP is created to help direct that change in an organized and strategic fashion.

Council agreed with third reading to also add requirements that crosswalk measures be implemented for the Davidson Road-Okanagan Road East intersection, and a paved sidewalk be extended from the development to Robinson Road.

The rezoning will undergo a fourth reading prior to final adoption.