Proposed 700-home development in Penticton causes concern for traffic, habitat, trails

The city plans to narrow Wiltse Boulevard by putting in bike lane

More than 40 people tuned into the City of Penticton’s Zoom session on the proposed 700-home Wiltse development, airing their concerns over traffic, loss of habitat and trails and the environment on Wednesday evening.

Residents who attended the meeting learned there will be no new access road built to this development should it go ahead. New residents will drive on Wiltse Boulevard or Pineview Road to get into town.

“The existing road network has capacity to handle this development,” said Michael Hodges, the city’s development infrastructure manager.

“But we do know about the speeding concerns down Wiltse and at Wiltse Elementary. Wiltse is too wide right now and that leads drivers to speed,” said Hodges.

As part of the city’s bike network plan, it will be putting in a bike lane from the new development connecting to the Lake to Lake through Wiltse Boulevard. This new bike lane will narrow the road considerably and will naturally force drivers to slow down, said Hodges.

The hope, said the city, is residents of the new development will use the bike lanes or walk to town instead of using their vehicles as the only mode of transportation.

The city also held an open house on Tuesday at the Wiltse Elementary playground where 60 people attended and asked similar questions.

The last open house will be held this Saturday, April 30 at 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Penticton Seniors’ Drop In Centre. People have until May 8 to provide feedback.

If approved, the plan calls for building 686 homes, split between 183 single detached homes, 28 duplex units and 475 multifamily units, as well as neighbourhood parks, a park corridor and collector road.

A large portion of the property (44 hectares) will need to be levelled and vegetation and trees removed. Currently void of homes, the area is popular for biking and hiking. Some trails will be eliminated while others will be diverted along the Fortis line. There is not estimate to how many trees will be removed to develop this land but the Zoning Bylaw requires the developer to plant one new tree on each lot and to plant trees along both sides of new roads every 8 to 12m.

READ MORE: Feedback sought on proposed 700 home development in Wiltse area

Transit will only come when the demand does, said the city.

The city likened this development as similar to Sendero Canyon which is still not completely built out 14 years after the neighbourhood got its zoning in 2008.

“They are still building the last homes there,” said city planner Steven Collyer.

A developer is hoping to bring around 700 new homes to this area of Wiltse in south Penticton. (Zoom Earth)

This is a massive development proposal that will be built in phases and likely will take 15 to 20 years to fully complete, he said to a question a resident asked. Construction trucks will not be allowed to go past the school to access the site, said the city. The trucks will have to use neighbourhood streets.

The land is privately owned, and according to the city has been designated for residential development since the first Official Community Plan in 1982. According to BC Assessment, the full parcel is worth $3.13 million. The land is currently for sale and the buyer will likely be the developer, said the city.

The applicant is applying for rezoning from agricultural zoning to a mix of residential. The land is not in the Agricultural Land Reserve.

Viewers from the meeting also learned that a new waterline has be built with the cost borne by the developer.

“It’s going to be difficult to get a waterline along Carmi,” said Hodges.

When residents were polled about what kind of parks they would like there, the most popular was a dog park and playgrounds as well as natural space. The parks built there would be dedicated back to the city.

City council has not voted on the rezoning application. Feedback on the Wiltse Block development can be sent to the city until May 8 through shapeyourcitypenticton.ca.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.

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