- Carli Berry/Capital News Coun. Penny Gambell was sworn in Tuesday night at the first council meeting after the election by Judge Monica McParland.

One Okanagan council is starting to consider their effect on the environment

Councillor at large Penny Gambell is turning her attention to the impact development has had on Lake Country’s wildlife as she enters a new term.

“Development to me is a big issue in the community and people see that we have encouraged too much development,” she said. “That is a difficult thing to address, but I think what we’ve worked on is to keep development compacted into that sort of the urban area.”

A draft of the the new Official Community Plan outlines an urban containment boundary, which outlines main areas like Tyndall Road, Chase Road, Glenmore Road and Mccoubrey Road as well as Okanagan Centre Road East, Pretty Road, Robinson Road, Lodge Road, Sherman Drive, Darlene Road, Lake Hill Drive, Apex Drive, Eagle Ridge Drive, Pelmewash Parkway and along the Oyama isthmus as places for development.

However, Gambell said the OCP can always be amended and it’s a matter of if it is being followed.

A World Wildlife Federation report released last week said humanity has killed 60 per cent of fish, birds, mammals and reptiles between 1970 and 2014, something Gambell said she’s seen examples of in the community.

“I’ve lived here all my life. Now I haven’t seen the deer population disappear, it’s a little less so than it was lately but it’s hunting season… but it’s the other animals. When The Lakes built up on the hill there, we saw so many mice come down to the farm, that was their area where they lived; that was mice and gophers,” she said.

“I think one of the problems we have is we are not focusing maybe as much on those corridors. We’ve got it in our Official Community Plan, we talk about it, but are we addressing it appropriately? I question that.”

Gambell has also noticed animals like racoons, which aren’t native to the region, are moving into Lake Country.

READ MORE: Be wary of raccoons

She’s hoping to put a tree retention bylaw in place for larger developments and hopes to have developments retain native plants as well.

The Lakes development was approved prior to Gambell’s election in 2005 and the rezoning for the Lakestone development had received third reading. So she only had input on the master plan.

READ MORE: Trees versus development in Lake Country

“I find it very very disturbing that we will actually clear-cut a large block of land like that and not (retain) the native vegetation, it’s not the same if we plant,” she said.

She doesn’t want to see development in “far flung” areas in the community, and would like to look at the number of developments that have been approved as well as ask staff for a report on how that is impacting the district’s infrastructure, like water, sewers and roads.

“To protect more of the natural areas, it may mean a change to how we do development. That means our building department, what our planners want to do, how will it affect (the environment). That’s what we need to talk about,” Gambell said.

According to World Health Organization expert Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, mitigating the effects of climate change has to start at a local level.

“Change has to start at the regional and local level. There are mitigation and adaptation things we have to do, such a greenhouse gas emission reduction. But there is no guarantee we will do it,” he said.

He cited the example of California, a leading proponent of climate change policy in the U.S., which built understanding of climate change not by through science, but through a commercial that focused on a young child with asthma and what uncertain future they would face if climate change was left unchecked.

He said the ad was very effective because it personalized the issue, which was being discussed by then California Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has since become a leading global climate change advocate.

READ MORE: Sounding the climate change alarm bell

New Winfield Coun. Jerremy Kozub said placing wildlife corridors in the developed areas could be a solution to mitigate the effects development has on wildlife.

Gambell is also focusing her attention on improving communication between the district and residents.

“The overall result of the election made me feel that we need to do a survey to see what we are doing well and where are the gaps… I’d like to look at roads, I’d like to look at water, different aspects of our community,” she said.

The new council was sworn in Tuesday night, by Judge Monica McParland.

@carliberry_
carli.berry@kelownacapnews.com

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