This area of Naramata Bench overlooking Okanagan Lake is the proposed sight for a 300 plus home development by Canadian Horizons. (Canadian Horizons photo)

This area of Naramata Bench overlooking Okanagan Lake is the proposed sight for a 300 plus home development by Canadian Horizons. (Canadian Horizons photo)

Penticton housing project would ruin Naramata Bench, says group

‘The Naramata Bench is special and a lot of us want to keep it that way’

A group fighting the Spiller Road housing development says the size and scope of 300-plus homes on the hillside will ruin Naramata Bench forever.

David Kozier is a grape grower on the Naramata Bench whose vineyard is just down from the housing proposal on Spiller Rd. He’s not only worried about the size of the project, but what the initial rock blasting will do to his vineyard if this project gets the go-ahead.

Kozier is speaking on behalf of a society called Preserve Naramata Bench that has also collected more than 13,000 signatures opposing the Canadian Horizons project and have a website.

The Canadian Horizons project was before city council Tuesday, Feb. 16.

READ MORE: Opposition to Canadian Horizons development on Naramata Bench grows

City staff is expected to direct council to give first readings to two bylaws to introduce zoning amendments for the property.

They would like to change the zoning of country residential to a mixture of large-lot residential, small-lot residential and small-lot with lanes.

“When this development was first proposed back in 2014, then mayor Garry Litke called the Canadian Horizons project a ‘leapfrog development’ because it is leapfrogging past the city core and into agricultural land. It didn’t make sense then and it doesn’t make sense now,” said Kozier.

“Penticton’s Official Community Plan, which was approved in 2019, clearly sets out the zoning for this area as country-residential which is one hectare lots. That’s what we want it to stay as. That’s what is appropriate for the area, not city sized lots of 30×100 feet.”

This is the 300 plus housing plots Canadian Horizons wants to build on their Spiller Rd. property.

Kozier said the group worries that if this project is given the green light by city council, it will change the look of the Naramata Bench forever, turning it into the next West Kelowna.

He also worries that the development could be the tip of the iceberg, with large neighbouring properties developed next.

The Surrey-based Canadian Horizons were also the developers behind Sendero Canyon.

“The Naramata Bench is special and a lot of us want to keep it that way,” he said. Kozier encourages people to join their group and to write to city council if they oppose this project.

City staff is expected to direct council to give first readings to the bylaws to introduce zoning amendments that would allow the development to be built today.

Council will also be directed to begin engagement with the public and stakeholders on the proposal and to report back on the results of the engagement.

Council will also consider whether consolation with the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen, local First Nations, School District 67, and other provincial or federal government agencies is required.

An actual decision on the zoning amendments is not expected until after public and stakeholder consultations have been completed.

— With files from Jesse Day

READ MORE: Locals vocal about proposed 300-plus home development in Naramata Bench