Public hearing for proposped industrial site near Glenmore hears from upset residents

With traffic levels high on roads in the area of a proposed industrial site, residents say they don't want more industry

The intersection at Highway 97 and Glenmore/Beaver Lake Road in Lake Country is in need of a major improvement

An application for a new light industrial area near Glenmore Road in Lake Country had neighbourhood residents loudly protesting at a public hearing last week in Lake Country and their concerns have run straight into the district’s future plans for the area.

A public hearing was held on a proposal to rezone six properties from agriculture to general industrial along Okanagan Centre Road East, Seaton Road and Dick Road. The rezoning would complete the process of removing at least two of the properties out of the Agriculture Land Reserve (ALR) and pave the way for future development as outlined in Lake Country’s Glenmore Industrial Development Strategy. All six properties are in the ALR; however, two of them have received conditional approval to be removed if they can receive rezoning from the District of Lake Country.

Combined the area in question is just over 12 hectares (30 acres) in size with the six properties owned by five different parties applying for rezoning under the same application.

It’s the second time the proposal has come before Lake Country council although in a slightly different form. The previous application was from a different applicant and a traffic impact assessment was never completed for the area and the application expired.

“I live right across the street from this monstrosity,” said area resident Donna Stoltz. “When we came to all these meetings years ago, everyone was against this. This is our quiet neighbourhood where people walk their dogs, ride their horses and kids play. The community doesn’t want this. The only ones who want this are the ones selling their property.”

Among the concerns raised by those in attendance who spoke included dust, safety and traffic concerns along the road network in the area.

“The traffic is unbelievable morning, noon and night, it’s endless,” said resident Sharon Warner. “The people that live in the area can’t get out. We wait and we wait and no one will stop.”

Despite the objections of people who live in the area, the proposal to rezone the six applications is in line with what’s been identified as future industrial use in Lake Country, predating the district’s incorporation as a municipality by decades, according to Lake Country’s community development manager.

“The low supply of developed industrial land in the district has limited the number of services for the community, the number of local jobs, and held back the diversification of the local economy/tax base. Without the development of these lands in line with council’s OCP, it is unlikely that any substantial industrial development will ever take place in Lake Country,” said Jamie McEwan of the district.

The future development is also linked to changes in the road system that could lead to improvements to the intersection of Highway 97 and Glenmore/Beaver Lake Road. Lake Country infrastructure services director Greg Buchholz said the district’s future plans include a partial re-alignment of Okanagan Centre Road West and Glenmore Road. Those plans would align with a future plan to move the Highway 97/Glenmore intersection southward.

“This is a very costly project and will have to be led by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure,” said Buchholz of the Highway 97 intersection at Glenmore and Beaver Lake Road. “Until they come to the table and provide a long term solution for this, we will continue to have these problems. The ministry is doing a Central Okanagan planning study and we are really trying to say this is the bottleneck on Highway 97 and deserves some immediate attention. Maybe they will see the light on it and proceed sooner rather than later.”

Coun. Penn Gambell pointed to the length of time it took to lobby the government on other projects and said something needs to be done in the short-term instead of waiting on the province.

“It could be five or 10 years, we don’t know. We’re certainly going to lobby but its expensive and sometimes things change and it could be a lot longer,” she said.

In the end council asked for a staff report to be done on the rezoning application before a decision is made. The application will return to council at a future time.

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