Lake Country town-home proposal spotlights urban-rural divide

Residents say planned development will change character of the neighbourhood

Google street view screen capture of the intersection of Okanagan Centre Road East and Davidson Road in Lake Country.

Development pressures are threatening to lose the ‘country’ in Lake Country, according to some area residents.

Davidson Road’s Helen Shone made the comment while speaking at a recent public hearing regarding a five-building, 19-unit complex proposed for a lot adjacent to the intersection of Okanagan Road East and Davidson Road. The land is currently zoned RU-1—single family residential—which would allow for up to 15 homes to be developed on the two-acre sized property. The developer wants to change that designation to RM-2 to permit the proposed townhouse complex.

Shone questioned adding townhouse units to a residential rural area where water quality and water pressure service are already taxed and children moving in likely wouldn’t be able to enroll at Davidson Road Elementary because of overcrowding.

“Our bathtubs are already yellow because of water quality issues so how is this project going to make that any better?” she asked.

Shone also suggested a traffic roundabout would be needed at the Okanagan Road East-Davidson Road intersection to slow down drivers already speeding along that route and to provide adequate safety measures currently lacking for area residents.

“It’s already not safe walking along that road now so adding more traffic and more housing quantity there isn’t going to help that situation.”

That concern was echoed by Okanagan Road East resident Sean Lapinsky, saying it’s unsafe for his two young children to ride their bikes on the road.

“I don’t see how adding 19 or 20 more townhouses is going to make that road any safer,” Lapinsky said. “We moved here to live a rural lifestyle on a nice sized piece of land, not to see the density of our neighbourhood increased. That’s not where we want to live.”

Another resident, who said he lives on the adjacent property to where the townhouse complex is proposed, said the potential for having his backyard bordered by multiple townhouse units was disappointing to learn.

“Our whole life would be affected by this development. This was supposed to be a single-family residential neighbourhood,” he said.

Eric Huber, agent for the developer, said the $8 million project will both be visually appealing and offer affordable housing which is in short supply.

“Lake Country is in need of this kind of development that can be affordable for young families,” Huber said.

Traffic consultant David Cullen added the traffic flow impact of about 110 trips daily, is below a level of statistical impact based on provincial traffic volume management standards.

Cullen said concerns about the intersection fronting the development could be addressed in incremental fashion, starting with a lighted crosswalk before considering putting in a stop light.

“It’s better to go one step at a time when adopting traffic safety measures to determine what is appropriate for a given situation,” he said.

The proposal will be back before Lake Country council before any approvals are granted.