Dwight Johnson

Dwight Johnson

Development draws late opposition

Concerned Amrstrong businesspeople oppose site of Highway 97A and Harding Road housing

They’re not opposed to the actual development, they’re just not happy with the site.

A group of concerned Armstrong businesspeople are hoping to convince city council to postpone final reading on a planned development for Highway 97A and Harding Road.

Kelowna-based Emil Anderson Construction has made an application to council to amend the official community plan and rezone a portion of a 4.88 hectare lot at Highway 97A and Harding Road to create a new 1.08 hectare highway and tourist commercial lot.

In March, Emil Anderson Construction general manager of land development, Greg Aslin, presented its plan to council, calling for a commercial development in the corner of the proposed lot, 63 housing units and the potential for a hotel or motel.

“I’ve been in business for 37 years and what piqued my interest about this (development), is that when the Country Court Mall opened, it had a fairly significant effect on the town of Armstrong,” said Dwight Johnson, who owns the Village Cheese Company and Armstrong Pharmacy, at a meeting Wednesday on the development at the Armstrong Inn.

“As soon as I heard about this proposal, I thought it could be a blow to the historic downtown.”

The plan went to public hearing, of which a handful of people attended, but there was nobody from the business sector at the hearing, according to Johnson.

Armstrong council unanimously gave third reading to the bylaw zoning application. A fourth reading is needed before it can be officially passed.

Johnson chaired Wednesday’s meeting, which brought together about 25 people, many from the Armstrong Spallumcheen Chamber of Commerce by invitation.

The sentiment expressed by many at the meeting was that they weren’t opposed to the development, they’d just like to see the commercial aspect in the downtown core, and not sprawl to the outskirts.

“I’m not against businesses coming to town, just the position of it on the outer edge of town,” said Bill Richards, who co-owns the Armstrong Inn. “It’s making a third commercial area and will encourage people to drive by Armstrong and not come to town. Once they come off the highway, other businesses have the potential to encourage that person to stop.

“If they go by, we have no chance to access their wallet.”

Special guest speaker at Wednesday’s meeting was Bill Remphrey of Salmon Arm, a retired university professor who talked about Smart Growth principles of which there are 10 main ones.

At the top of the list is mixing land uses.

“Each neighbourhood has a mixture of homes, retail, business, and recreational opportunities,” said Remphrey, who said a new commercial entity in Armstrong’s downtown core would bring people to downtown and keep them there.

A presentation was made to the Armstrong Spallumcheen Chamber of Commerce at their regular meeting Thursday on the plan.

A petition has been circulated asking council to reconsider the application and to re-open the process.

A delegation opposed to the development will make a presentation at Monday’s Armstrong council meeting.