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Naramata housing development scales back to seek approval

Development planned for designated future growth area previously faced opposition over scale, environmental impact
Vinterra 880 Naramata Road N
Canadian Horizons is making a second bid for approval of a new housing development in Naramata.

A controversial residential development above the Naramata Bench is looking for a second chance from local residents.

During its regular meeting on May 17, Penticton city council voted to engage the public over proposed Official Community Plan changes for 1050 Spiller Road.

Surrey-based Canadian Horizons Development Corp. wants to develop the property. It previously sought municipal approval for the project, then known as Vinterra, in February 2021. The property is in an area identified for future growth in Penticton’s OCP, but the  proposal was rejected following major public backlash.

Key concerns voiced by neighbours and area residents included the scale of the proposed development, environmental impacts and impacts on local tourism and agriculture.

The original plan proposed up to 300 residential units on the 50-hectare property. The new, amended proposal, now seeks approval to build 112 single-family homes, a level of density currently well below that supported by the OCP.

The first step toward the new vision is asking the public whether or not it supports changes to the OCP that would allow the project.

The one-month engagement period is expected to begin May 24. It will include a page on the Shape Your City Penticton website, signs posted on the property, ads in local media, feedback forms and online information sessions.

Results will be reviewed, summarized and shared to the public, council and Canadian Horizons. At that time, council could choose to draft a bylaw and forward it to public hearing for further input. The bylaw would then return to council for final reading and possible adoption.

"Our role is not to promote the proposal. Our role is to educate on the planning process to the public to council direct staff to begin the engagement," said Nicole Capewell, a planner with the City of Penticton.

"While we may have envisioned more development and density on this property in previous years, this may no longer reflect our public's interest and warrants a discussion as to what land uses and densities are suitable here."

Council was mostly in approval, emphasizing that public engagement over changes to the OCP is merely a first step.

"We are not approving. We are simply moving to the next stages," said Councillor Campbell Watt. "I think that's really important to note, that we're going to take public feedback prior to making any actual motion for approval."

Council passed the motion 4-2 with Councillors James Miller and Katie Robinson opposed. Mayor John Vassilaki was not in attendance.

Canadian Horizons acquired the site, located 10 minutes from downtown Penticton, in 2006.