Association of Citizens for Summerland

Monday, January 31, 2005

Public Open House

It looks like there's a public open house planned for February 22 to discuss the latest draft of Summerland's official community plan. I'm not a big fan of these things -- they seem like pointless PR events designed to create the illusion of public consultation -- but perhaps it's better than nothing.

Sprawl and Smart Growth

Smart Growth BC has a fantastic page explaining the costs and impacts of sprawling development. Nearly everyone seems to be in favour of Smart Growth as a set of principles, especially the importance of confining development to areas that are already serviced to limit sprawl and protect agricultural land. The current draft of Summerland's OCP reflects those principles in the narrative and stakeholders' feedback, but the bulk of the proposed future development appears to be slated for large single-family suburbs on hillsides away from the town centre. How could they be considered anything but sprawl?

Smart Growth BC is working with community communities to:
  • Avoid urban sprawl by promoting compact human settlement that avoids unplanned growth and ensures efficient development
  • Minimize the use of cars by encouraging walking, bicycling and public transit
  • Protect the ecological integrity of urban and suburban areas
  • Maintain the integrity of a secure and productive agricultural land base
  • Promote adequate and affordable housing
  • Preserve, create and link urban and rural open space
  • Promote alternative development standards
  • Ensure an early and ongoing role for citizens in planning, design and development processes

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

OCP Concerns

Douglas Crumback's recent letter to the local paper outlines some of the main concerns of the stakeholders group:
"The first draft of the OCP, produced by the engineering firm, hired by the town, attempted to incorporate the input provided by our group fairly closely.

Our group was then disbanded and at council's direction, Draft 2 was produced with astonishing changes. Draft 2 differed from Draft 1 in the following key areas: it increased the amount of ALR land desired for removal for development from 149 to 440 acres; and it increased the projected population figures (over the next 20 years) from the stakeholder's suggested maximum of 17,000 to 28,000 people.
This is a difference of 11,000 people; our current population."

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Tony Cooke's Letter

Tony Cooke forwarded us a letter he sent to the press in December, outlining his main concerns with the second draft of Summerland's OCP. Like Amie's and Douglas's letters, he's focused on the aggressive growth rates proposed in the new draft:
"Dear Editor,

At last there will be a public open house to discuss the Official Community Plan (the OCP) produced by the consultants, UMA. Council disbanded the Stakeholders group, so we cannot meet with the public at that time to explain our position. The OCP is a plan for the next 20 years, covering many issues. Perhaps the most important are the rate of growth, where growth occurs, and what consequently happens to agricultural land.

The Stakeholders in their many meetings supported the majority views expressed in the results of the OCP questionnaire (hundreds of households responded). Strong support was given to preserving agricultural land, to promoting agri-tourism, to preserving the small town feel and rural nature of Summerland, and to promoting commercial development in the Downtown instead of on the Highway.

The Stakeholders proposed a maximum growth rate of 2% per annum, i.e. a population ceiling of 17,000 by 2026. We also asked that agricultural land be preserved as far as possible. Draft 1 of the OCP showed almost 5,000 new homes and the loss of 146 acres of agricultural land. These numbers alarmed us. We therefore moved that “UMA re-examine the number of housing units to better reflect the 2 percent growth rate which the Stakeholders Group proposed”.

Draft 2, prepared at Council’s direction, goes in exactly the opposite direction. No less than 440 acres of land presently in the Agricultural Land Reserve are designated for development. Provision is made for at least 7,300 new homes, as follows: Downtown Core (640); Lower Town (67); Trout Creek (200); Agricultural land immediately north of the Downtown to Blair and Thompson (1,000); Victoria Road South (200), North Prairie Valley (2,932), Rattlesnake Mountain (530); The Jersey Lands (700); Cartwright Mountain (215); and the proposed annexed land for a new golf course (700 – 1,000).

Over the last 20 years Summerland’s population grew from 7,600 to 11,000. Another 7,300 homes would take our population to 28,000! How does planning for growth to the size of today’s Penticton meet the goal of preserving our small town feel and rural nature?

I urge every Summerlander to attend the Public Open House on 22nd February. If we make provision in the OCP for 7,300 new homes then that is what we will get. The economic, social and environmental costs of such rapid growth would be huge.

Only a massive turn-out will convince Council to reconsider the plan.

Growth can be controlled. To quote the OCP draft itself, 'The management of growth can take many forms and may include such measures as limiting the amount of land available for development, prescribing the type of development that can occur, and the conditions under which development would be permitted'.

Tony Cooke"

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Not in My Front Yard

When we bought our townhouse, it looked over a peaceful grassy field with a heritage home surrounded by big trees on one side. Beyond it we got a glimpse of the lake and a view of the distant orchards. A year later, we have a view of a massive construction site that will soon be transformed into the huge apartment complex known as Summerland Seniors Village. It's noisy and ugly, and the plans for the completed building don't look much better. On a purely selfish level, it's disappointing.

So, why didn't I try to organize some opposition to the development? Because I think it's smart growth. It's high-density housing within walking distance to shops and downtown, which is what most people in town seem to support. The style of building should make units more affordable than most housing, the infrastructure and services are already in place, and housing for seniors has been in short supply. It's been a good reality check, forcing me to realize that there are more important issues facing the future of the town than the quality of my view.

Matt MacNeil gave a presentation a couple of years ago at this conference: Smart Growth in the Okanagan: A Valley-Wide Dialogue for Action (PDF). The topic was the phenomenon of NIMBY (Not in My Back Yard), which is often invoked to dismiss the concerns of anyone opposed to development, especially infill development and multi-family housing in low-density neighbourhoods. I'm including it here as a reminder of the types of criticisms we will receive for opposing aggressive and unsustainable development in Summerland. NIMBY:
• Reflects residents’ desire to prevent certain land uses near homes or communities.
• Remains an ongoing barrier to affordable housing, mixed residential development, infill, secondary suites, etc.
• Common concerns include: declining property values; reduced parking; increased traffic, crime (safety); deteriorating quality of life; and loss of local control.
• May also mask discrimination against people regarded as “different” and with whom day-to-day contact is seen as undesirable.
• Definition: 'NIMBY is any collective action taken against proposed change -– both physical and social –- to the local environment...NIMBY protest is based on the belief that change will have a negative effect on the character, socio-economic status, or quality of life in a neighbourhood.'"

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Main Issues with OCP

I received an e-mail forwarded through a group of Summerland citizens concerned about the future development of the town. Although I read the whole draft of the OCP, I thought it would be great to have a shorter sort of summary of it. The writer of this e-mail (and this letter) was a member of the stakeholder's group, and I found her summary of the main issues helpful:
"I have outlined three main issues with respect to the opinion of the public as found through the questionnaire, the opinion of the stakeholders as expressed through motions and then how these issues are addressed in Draft 2 of the OCP rewrite.

1. The Role of the ALR, Preservation and Exclusion
  • Public questionnaire results showed 62% of respondents felt "preserving existing agricultural lands" was either very important or important. Also 72% of respondents felt "preserving the rural flavour of Summerland was either very important or important.
  • Stakeholder Motion 5.4 moves, "to accept the statement that preserving the agricultural and rural flavour of Summerland is important"; carried unanimously.
  • Stakeholder Motion 5.5 moves, "to recommend the creation of a town core boundary within which ALR land exclusions could be considered and beyond which, ALR land is preserved." UMA initially defined this boundary based on three criteria, namely Lands within or adjacent to sewer serviced areas; Lands not found in the ALR; and Lands not restricted from development due to topography (Draft 2, pg 27). The UGA(Urban Growth Area) in Draft One was endorsed by the Stakeholders.
  • OCP Draft 2, prepared under Council's direction, expands the Urban Growth Area of Summerland to include 293 acres of land currently in the ALR. (Draft Two, pg. C-1), plus 148 acres in the Future Growth Area
2. Population Growth and Management
  • Public questionnaire comments suggested these important issues that the rewrite should consider, "water supply issues prior to additional development"; "limits to development stressing a need to decrease sprawl and increase intensity"; and "ALR preservation"
  • Stakeholder Motion 3.3, "to set a maximum 2% per annum compound growth rate over 20 years, which means a population target of 17,000"; carried by 8-4. This growth rate represents approximately 2250 new housing units by 2026. This limit to growth represents about twice as many new homes as were built during the last 20 years.
  • The UMA planners indicated that there is room for at least 900 new dwelling units on land that is both near or within sewered areas and not on ALR land. This amount would satisfy our need for growth, depending on rate, for close to 10 years. This number doesn't touch on redevelopment, increased intensity, or development outside of sewered areas.
  • Council felt that the UGA proposed in Draft One did not meet their objectives (Draft Two, pg. 27). Draft 2 expands the need for land to 128 hectares and fulfills that need with ALR land.
3. Priority of Development
  • Development of ALR lands within the Urban Growth Area (293 acres, Draft 2 pg C-1) will take precedence over the development of areas outside of the ALR such as North Prairie Valley, Rattlesnake Mountain and Victoria Road South.
  • The term "Urban Growth Area" means the Downtown Core, Lower Town, Giants Head, Trout Creek, North Prairie Valley East, Cartwright Mountain, the Jersey Lands, and Agricultural Land immediately north of the Downtown. The plan shows approximately 3,000 new homes in the UGA.
  • "Future Growth Area" means North Prairie Valley West, Rattlesnake Mountain, and the proposed annexed land for a new golf course. The OCP shows approximately 4,300 new homes in the Future Growth Area
  • 1-1 under heading Growth Management Policies states, "the first priority for growth is the infilling and redevelopment of land within the Urban Growth Area." now including ALR lands (Draft 2, pg 29)
  • 1-2 of this section further states that "over time rural land uses, such as Rural Residential and Farmland, found within the UGA will be replaced with urban land uses and full municipal utility services. (Draft 2, pg 29)
These issues are far reaching and will drastically change the nature and character of our town. I am not opposed to growth; however, I am opposed to growth that comes at a high price to the agricultural community and the rural flavour of Summerland. It doesn't need to be this way. Please take the time to read the proposed OCP and make your opinion heard!"

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Why does this site exist?

Welcome to the web site of the Association of Citizens for Summerland. The Association believes that Summerlanders enjoy a very special quality of life, and it will work to preserve and enhance that lifestyle. It recognizes that the vitality of Summerland does not depend upon growth and development.

Its mission is to support a safe and healthy community with a sustainable economy; to conserve farm, forest and ranch land; and to protect natural resources, fish and wildlife habitat.

The Association will support development and change if it enhances and improves Summerland’s small town character, friendly ambience and rural nature.

The initial objectives and interests of the association are:
  1. To support and advocate a rate of growth whereby the essence of the community is not sacrificed.
  2. To support the concept that at some point growth of the community must become minimal and therefore a well-planned transition to sustainability will be required.
  3. To advocate policy which recognizes that Summerland’s water is a limited resource.
  4. To protect the Agricultural Land Reserve (the ALR) except in rare cases.
  5. To inform the membership and the public of Summerland of pertinent and important issues.
  6. To be a cohesive citizen’s voice, and to monitor all Council meetings so as to keep the membership informed of important issues.
  7. To support and encourage agriculture, agri-tourism and related businesses as continuing principal industries and employers for the community.
  8. To encourage the continuance of a prosperous, healthy and vibrant downtown area and restrict commercial development of Highway 97 within Summerland’s boundaries.
  9. To encourage the development of recreation facilities, parks, public open spaces, the arts and cultural activities.
  10. To demand fiscal responsibility with tax increases limited to increases in the Consumer Price Index.


This blog was originally set up at the end of 2004 by a small group of Summerland residents to collect ideas about the future of Summerland. They were concerned about the process of revising the town's official community plan and wanted to connect with others who were feeling uncomfortable with the direction the municipal council seemed to be going.

In April, 2005, a larger group of concerned citizens decided to create a more formal structure for addressing issues of growth and council accountability and the Association of Citizens for Summerland was born. Since the general direction was compatible with the philosophy behind the blog, the original authors decided to turn it into the site for the new association.

Back home...

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Get Involved

There are a few ways to participate in the association and this site, and we encourage you to try all of them.

Become a Member

Consult the draft constitution for more details of the association's purpose and objectives. If you'd like to join, and mail in a membership application form. If you would like to volunteer your assistance in any of our research, recruiting, publicity, fundraising or in any other way, please let us know.

Leave Comments

Please comment on anything you see on the site that interests you, whether you agree or disagree or just have some ideas you'd like to add. At the bottom of each post there's a link showing the number of comments that have been added to the post. Click that link to see the whole post with the comments displayed at the bottom. Below the last comment, click "Post a comment" to add your own thoughts.

Let's keep the comments constructive and thoughtful -- personal attacks will be deleted. If you don't set up a Blogger account, you can post anonymously, but I encourage everyone to sign their posts. We'd like to connect people, and I think we tend to be more respectful and honest when our names are attached to our comments.

E-Mail Your Contributions

If you'd like to introduce a new topic that hasn't been posted yet, e-mail us the text you'd like to contribute. We're trying to keep the focus on future development in Summerland, and I can't guarantee that everything will be posted, but we want to provide a forum for people who care about these things. Ideally, we'll have posts from a variety of viewpoints.

Tell Your Friends

Do you know someone who might be interested in this stuff? Send them to and ask them to leave comments.

Subscribe to the Newsletter

Do you want to receive occasional (never more than once a week) updates about upcoming events and new posts or comments on the site? Add your e-mail address in the right sidebar to subscribe to the newsletter.

Link to the Site

If you have your own web site, feel free to link to this site. If there's a specific post you'd like to link to, click the "Permanent Link" at the bottom of the post and copy the URL of that page into your link.

Thanks for your help!