The City of Penticton is at the final stage of extending its boundaries to include a portion of the Skaha Bluffs area.
It has taken over a year to get to this stage, after city council approved a request from a developer to begin the annexation process in March 2017, including public consultation and a chance for residents to block the plan through an alternate approval process.
The process has been accomplished, and city staff are advising city council the Letters Patent have been amended to include the 300-acres of land witching the city boundaries.
Annexing the lands shouldn’t cost taxpayers, at least not in the long term. Over the next 60 years, the development is expected to generate about $27 million in municipal taxes and cost about $17 million over the same period to maintain infrastructure and service the development.
“The conclusion is that this development would be self-sustaining financially and would not pose a burden on the city’s finances,” reads the report to council authored by special projects manager Ben Johnson.
The alternate approval process would have required 10 per cent of the electors to file an opposition petition to halt the process. Only 382 valid petitions — about 1.4 per cent — were received by the Nov. 15 2017 deadline, despite the city extending it by two weeks.
The boundary extension was made part of the city’s long range plans in 2014, as part of the Upper Wiltse Area Structure Plan, which included 330 acres of land already in the city.
One of the benefits touted as arising from the boundary extension is the possibility of expanding Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park. Only a small part of the 300 acres is considered to be developable and the south eastern portion, on the border of the park, contains rocky bluffs and environmentally sensitive areas.
City hall has been working with both B.C. Parks and the developers, who have indicated that they are proposing to gift a significant proportion of the land — about 150 acres — to the province to create an expansion of the neighbouring provincial park. This would be in addition to the city-owned parkland and trails created within the development area.
City staff are expected to return to council later this summer with a draft structure plan, OCP designations and zoning for the new land, which allow development to begin.
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
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