There were passionate pleas from Kettle Valley residents during a public hearing Tuesday (Aug. 15), asking city council to turn down a housing development in their community.
The Legacy Neighbourhood is the final phase of the Kettle Valley Master Plan.
Many who spoke against the development of 99 new homes noted the lack of a second emergency exit route. One resident, a nurse at Kelowna General Hospital (KGH), told council how she was evacuated during the 2003 Okanagan Mountain Park Fire.
“I was on the road trying to get out with flames near my vehicle,” she said. “I phoned my husband and said goodbye. It took me two hours on Chute Lake Road to get back to KGH to run an intensive care unit.”
She, and other residents, noted that the infrastructure for a second emergency exit from the Upper Mission is not good enough at this point to build more homes.
“Is it going to take a death for people to see that we need to have the infrastructure in place?” she added.
Another speaker pointed out that the recently completed South Perimeter Way would not be helpful in the event of an emergency.
“That perimeter does not do anything for the Kettle Valley area.”
Residents also mentioned that commuting to work or school is already a problem and would get worse with additional homes.
“If I leave five minutes late in the morning during the school year, it could take me upwards of 40 to 45 minutes to travel that eight kilometres,” said one woman.
A lack of services and amenities in the neighbourhood, including daycare spaces, was also brought up to council.
“The Central Okanagan in general, and Kettle Valley specifically, is what they call a childcare desert,” said Amanda Worms, CEO of Little Owl Academy childcare.
Other neighbours said their community needs another school in addition to Chute Lake Elementary.
The developer had previously given land to Central Okanagan Public Schools (COPS) for that purpose. However, in 2014 COPS selected a different site and gave the land back.
“We do our best to advocate to the province but we do not deliver those services, and we can’t wait for the province to deliver them to build people’s homes that they need,” said Coun. Loyal Wooldridge.
He pointed out that the new homes will contribute $4.75 million to development cost charges that will pay for roads, sewer and other infrastructure.
The developer has also contributed $240,000 to extend Frost Road. This is the third version of the project, with the other two being turned down by previous councils.
One resident said they were glad to see a new council and was hopeful for change.
“Please support balanced zoning that supports the community to grow as a whole,” she added. “Kettle Valley needs services, not 99 more homes.”
Paul Fenske, with Placemark Design and Development, told council that many residents have asked if the neighbourhood needs more luxury homes.
“No, not really,” he said. “However, new small single family, duplex homes, townhomes, are urgently needed.”
Coun. Luke Stack agreed.
“When I look at 99 homes and what we’re looking at as a city and what our needs are, it really is a drop in the bucket.”
Coun. Charlie Hodge “reluctantly” supported the project, but had a message for the developer.
“I hope that because you win the day, doesn’t mean that you don’t go back and think a little bit about this and come up with something that makes it indeed a more complete community.”
Deputy Mayor Mohini Singh said she felt she needed to support the development.
“Because every day each one of us hears about the need for housing in Kelowna. It would be wrong of us to not consider this.”
Council voted 7-1 to move the project forward, with Coun. Ron Cannan opposed.
Mayor Tom Dyas recused himself citing a conflict of interest due to a previous business association.
Deputy Mayor Singh told the public hearing that while she recently moved to Kettle Valley she lived outside the notification area of the project. After discussions with staff, it was determined she could participate in the hearing.
City manager Doug Gilchrist also recused himself as he lives near the property in question.
The Legacy Neighbourhood development is spread over 14 acres, nearly half of which has been dedicated as parkland.
It consists of single-family homes, townhomes and duplexes. The developer has already built a full-size soccer field, and trails in the area over the past few years.