Delays, miscommunication and additional costs have left Peachland business owner Steve Allison with second thoughts about his proposed 40,000-square-foot Beach Avenue development.
Allison’s proposed building is a three-storey structure that will house commercial, office and residential spaces in the location currently occupied by the Edgewater Inn.
Last week fourth and final reading of the proposal was on Peachland council’s agenda; however, some unwanted fine print caused Allison to yank the item from the list.
For Allison, the crux of the matter seems to be a $13,000 community amenity contribution.
Allison, who is on the Peachland Economic Development Committee, said the committee has done extensive research on downtown revitalization in surrounding communities and none of them charge community amenity contributions to developers in similar situations.
He also pointed to section four of the Sustainable Downtown Peachland Plan, which encourages the district to explore innovative fiscal opportunities to support development in the downtown core.
Allison suggested “throwing a brand new penalty in that never existed in the past” goes against the spirit of the document.
“With our research through the Economic Development Committee, we think it’s suicide for the downtown to chase away potential development when there are already so many hurdles there to add new development. We haven’t achieved (new downtown development) in 40 years; it seems completely ridiculous.”
He added the district initially agreed Allison shouldn’t have to pay the amenity contribution; however, staff changed their minds and failed to inform him.
Although the $13,000 is a minimal amount of money in the grand scheme of things, Allison said he will not pay the charge because it will set a precedent.
Peachland Mayor Keith Fielding said he is aware of Allison’s point of view on communication about the community amenity contributions.
“Resolving these misunderstandings is part of the process; I’m looking forward to an opportunity to move ahead with this and get beyond that,” said Fielding.
According to Fielding, community amenity charges cover growth-related requirements such as new municipal buildings, fire stations and recreational facilities—things that aren’t covered through development cost charges.
The Peachland mayor noted council is not currently considering dropping the $13,000 charge; rather, waiting to hear more information from Allison.
Fielding said council, and the majority of the community, support the proposal.
“I think, like council, most people in the community want to see a downtown revitalization succeed. This was the first proposed building in the process and there is a lot of support for it,” said Fielding.
Although having already invested a six-figure amount of money on the proposal, Allison said the riskier option may be to see the proposal through to completion.
“I would have a substantial loss to walk away, but I’ve spent the money already. It’s a question: Do you throw good money after bad at a point?” said Allison.
“It’s actually safer for me to stay put…it’s riskier for me to build the building.”
Allison said three components are driving him to make the proposal a success.
“It looks after my businesses, keeps them in town, it looks after my family and, as a resident of Peachland, I think it’s a good thing.”