Association of Citizens for Summerland

Monday, January 30, 2006

Preserving and Creating Parkland

Smart Growth Principle 6 states: "Preserve open spaces, natural beauty, and environmentally sensitive areas". What follows are the results of the group B discussion.

Summerland specific question "As Summerland grows more parkland will be needed. What areas should become parkland?"
  1. Cartwright and Rattlesnake Mt.
  2. Dedicate Little Giant’s Head as a park
  3. Link existing parks and trails. This could be done as contingent on future development approvals.
  4. Walking trails along Highway 97
  5. Establish a trust fund for future park purchases.

Do you agree with this list? Deletions? Additions?

Comments please

A second question was posed but there was not time to answer it. "What areas desrve special environmental protection??

To start this list, add a comment to this post

Well Designed, Compact Neighbourhoods?

Smart Growth Principle 2 States: Build well designed compact neighbourhoods…work, shop, and play in close proximity.

One group discussed this principle. Here are the results of their discussion of questions geared to Summerland.

"What does Summerland lack to comply with this principle?"

  1. Insufficient multi-family close to the downtown - more needed.
  2. People are happy with the way the town is now
  3. Summerland is too spread out for this principle to work
  4. Lack of market demand
  5. Lack of developers that are willing to take a risk
  6. Insufficient affordable and compact housing
  7. Lack of leadership from council

"How much densification is possible without losing our small town character, and where should densification occur?"

  1. Quite a bit of densification is possible.
  2. Up to 3 stories maybe 4, should be the densification limit. Beyond that we will lose Summerland's character.
  3. Zero lot line development could be considered for some areas.

COMMENTS: The Smart Growth principles were developed with large towns and cities in mind so some do not adapt well to small towns. By city standards is Summerland just one neighbourhood? Or perhaps three, with Lower Town and Trout Creek being the other two?
Every principle deserves more discussion by more groups, but this is a good start. This is the result of concentrated thought by one group, (group B).

Do you agree with group B? Or disagree? What would you add?
Comments please!

Saturday, January 28, 2006

What Would Make You Leave Summerland?

Tom Lancaster got one group thinking about what was good about Summerland by posing the question differently. He asked the group to think about "What Drastic Change Would Make You Want to Leave Summerland?"

This hard hitting question provoked some soul searching, with the following results:-

  1. Population increase
  2. Downtown died
  3. Water shortages
  4. Uncontrolled ugly development
  5. The urbanisation of areas that presently are rural
  6. Easy access to wilderness was lost
  7. Huge increase in traffic
  8. Lawlessness - no safety
  9. No employment available in the area

What Are The Negatives?

Two groups went so far as to list what they saw as the negatives about Summerland.

The Negatives
  • Not enough walkways and bicycle paths - more needed
  • No hospital
  • Industrial areas are not used efficiently, they have low employment per hectare and are ugly.
  • There's not enough green space downtown
  • Some sectors of the business community are marginally viable due to the proximity of Kelowna and Penticton
  • Rural areas are becoming urbanised. we are losing our rural feel.
  • Existing bylaws and the OCP are not well enforced - developers seem to lead the way.
  • Rural/Urban conflicts are developing

When Does Summerland Become Less Desirable?

The second question in the first workshop session was "At what stage does growth make Summerland a less desirable place to live?"

The combined answers from all the groups were:-


  • The small town feel is lost/There’s too many people/Town becomes less compact/Town gets larger
  • There’s too many cars/Traffic congestion/Road safety declines
  • The citizens no longer have a say in the growth of their town/The rate of growth is fast
  • Air quality declines/Degraded environment/Loss of wildlife habitats
  • The downtown becomes less viable
  • Water restrictions or shortages occur/Water infrastructure becomes inadequate
  • Housing costs are not affordable
  • Building on hillsides/ Higher density housing which is ugly
  • Undesirable development occurs – development should be pretty, green, use small amount of resources, be unique.
  • Taxes become unreasonable and/or unaffordable
  • "Kelowna-ization" occurs/Strip malls are constructed/Highway development occurs
  • You can’t grow up and stay … or work and live in the same community
  • Walkability is reduced/Walkways and bike trails are lost
  • Loss of ALR, tourist campgrounds, post office, medical facilities,
  • Loss of greenspace, especially downtown/Decline in ratio of green space area to residents
  • When industrial land encroaches on green space
  • Land use mix changes - higher industrial proportion

What Should We Enhance?

Some groups decided to split the first question (What makes Summerland a great place to live - and what must we enhance and preserve) into two parts.

What Should we Enhance?

  1. Easier walking and cycling on regular arterial and collector roads
  2. Walkability generally, plus provide wider sidewalks for scooters
  3. Pathways connecting neighbourhoods
  4. The tax base by infilling in existing areas for greater tax dollars per hectare
  5. Affordability of housing – encourage low cost housing
  6. Focus on and redevelop the downtown as the key shopping area, and support local businesses
  7. Daycare
  8. Put more emphasis on desirable downtown living
  9. Medical facilities – including the hospital – essential for retirees
  10. Encourage people to come in

Thursday, January 26, 2006

What makes Summerland a Great Place to Live?

The Smart Growth Workshop on Wednesday 25th was a great success, thanks to the help and guidance from Tom Lancaster of SmartGrowthBC, a lot of volunteer work by the Board of the Association, and the ten volunteer facilitators. Many thanks to everyone.
It was both encouraging and refreshing to see our new Mayor David Gregory and Councillors Bennest, Waterman and Finnis participating along with their fellow citizens. Several senior staff members from Municipal Hall also attended and their presence was very much appreciated by the participants.

The first Question was "What makes Summerland a great place to live?" Answers from all five workshops were compiled into one master list. The participants were given 5 votes each to prioritise the great things about Summerland.

NOTE: Don't make the mistake of assuming that only the items that received high votes are important. They are ALL important - that is why participants raised them in the first place - but when forced to pick only five, some become more important than others.

High Votes Section, Most Votes First

  • Proximity to nature/natural amenities/walking and cycling trails.
  • Viable agriculture, agriculture close to town, "farm feel" to community
  • Walkability and compactness/viability of main street/main street theme
  • Small town atmosphere
  • Green space/natural setting/views/"see the stars at night"
  • Air and water quality
  • Volunteerism/community activity/sense of community
  • Good community services/good access/sports facilities/websites and newspaper
  • No big box stores/no emphasis on highway development
  • Climate
  • Safety and low crime rate
  • The fruit and wine industries

Medium Votes Section, Most Votes First

  • History and culture
  • Friendly faces/know many people
  • Family orientation, family activities, family support, SADIE
  • Agricultural Research Station
  • ALR and availability of locally produced food
  • Seniors amenities and services/ assisted living
  • Population age diversity
  • Vibrant cultural community
  • Lack of congestion/lack of traffic lights/easy driving and parking
  • Economic opportunities
  • Schools centralised, can locate anywhere in town and have access.
  • Unique name
  • Unique character with off-highway downtown, hilly terrain, country feel

Lower Votes Section

  • Dog friendly
  • Proximity to Vancouver and other places


Monday, January 23, 2006

Workshop Questions for Wednesday 25th

General Questions - Every group will answer these two questions
1. What makes Summerland a great place to live – and what must we enhance and preserve?
2. At what stage does growth make Summerland a less desirable place to live?

Smart Growth Questions - Each group will answer some of these questions
The ten Smart Growth Principles suggested by SmartGrowthBC ® are as shown below, with Summerland specific questions following in italics

SG Principle 1.
Mix land uses --- neighbourhoods have a mixture of homes, retail business, recreational opportunities etc.
1.. What practical actions could we take to encourage the long term re-development of our downtown core to include mixed retail/residential buildings?
2. What forms of mixed use should be encouraged for lower town?

SG Principle 2.
Build well-designed compact, shop, play in close proximity.
1. What does Summerland lack to comply with this principle?
2. How much densification is possible without losing our small town character? Where should densification occur?

SG Principle 3.
Provide a variety of transportation choices.
1. Should neighbourhoods and the downtown be linked with cycle-paths and walkways? How could this be done? Who would pay?
2. Which roads, or areas of town, should have sidewalks and cycleways?
3. Is public transport needed? How could it be viable?

SG Principle 4
Create diverse housing opportunities.
1. What type of housing is currently lacking?
3. What height restrictions are appropriate for Summerland?

SG Principle 5
Encourage growth in existing communities …developments should not use up new land.
1. Where should new housing be built first?
2. How can we better utilise existing industrial areas?

SG Principle 6
Preserve open spaces, natural beauty, and environmentally sensitive areas.
1. As Summerland grows more parkland will be needed. What areas should become parkland?
2. What areas deserve special environmental protection?

SG Principle 7
Protect and enhance agricultural lands.
1. What practical steps should we take to protect our remaining farmlands?
2. What will this mean for further growth of Summerland?

SG Principle 8
Utilise smarter and cheaper infrastructure and green buildings.
1. How could we make our infrastructure smarter and cheaper?
2. How should growth be balanced against air and water quality, and the consequent health issues?
3. Should an extra development charge be levied on new buildings that do not meet the highest efficiency standards?

SG Principle 9
Foster a unique neighbourhood identity.
1. Which areas have a unique identity, and what makes them unique?
2. How can Summerland maintain its unique identity yet provide the economic vitality needed for its residents?

SG Principle 10.
Nurture engaged citizens.
1. What are the most effective methods of engaging citizens? Prioritise them.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Smart Growth Workshop Program - 25th Jan 2006

6:30 Start - at Centre Stage

6:30 - 6:35 Introductions and welcome

6:35 - 6:55 Smart Growth. Power Point presentation/review by Tom Lancaster.

6:55 - 7:05 Explain questions, organise groups

7:05 - 7:15 Break

7:15 - 8:10 Workshops, smaller groups, in school classrooms.

8:10 - 8:20 Break.

8:20 - 9:10 Workshops continue, same smaller groups, in school classrooms.

9:10 - 9:40 Groups report back, Conclusions in Centre Stage.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Article 6 - Downtown (updated on 18th)

Summerland is so lucky to have a downtown located off the highway. Whenever I drive through Westbank on Highway 97 it reminds me of that line from a popular song from childhood, "the railroad goes through the middle of the house". I had a long conversation with Alan Fabbi in November about the downtown and the downtown merchants. It really got me pondering. Here's some thoughts, in no particular order:

  • Summerland is in an unusual situation with the big towns of Penticton and Kelowna nearby.
  • Towns like Nelson support a complete range of downtown shops and services because they don't have the competitive problem of quick access to large town facilities.
  • Why not expand the downtown revitalisation theme to include the complete downtown area?
  • Stores on the South side of main street could be double sided, or small cafes could be on the Wharton street side, facing memorial park. The "backside" of the present stores is not a pretty sight!
  • Trying to compete head to head with Penticton is futile, because of sheer size. We open a new Penny Lane, they open a London Drugs and a Winners.
  • Underground parking plus housing above ground floor stores would be the ideal long term aim, but the individual properties are too small for this. Redevelopment will require consolidated lots and larger buildings (which could be designed to have a small scale feel), and is a multi million dollar project. This is beyond the financial scope of downtown merchants. A long term redevelopment plan for the entire downtown is needed.
  • Downtown merchants have one big advantage over their competitors in malls like Cherry Lane - far lower rents.
  • Downtown merchants pay considerable property taxes. If we don't support them and they go out of business, the rest of us will have to pick up the shortfall.
  • Retired folk are a great group of shoppers to aim for. They don't enjoy driving, especially in the dark (many do not drive at all). Retired folk generally shop during the daytime, so shorter opening hours work for them. Their incomes may not be high but they are steady.
  • Many Summerland businesses are just as good and efficient as their equivalents in larger communities, and they seem to do well. A few don't provide good service and don't deserve success.
  • I sometimes start out intending to shop in Summerland but end up in Penticton because I cannot find a commonplace item on my "to buy" list in stock in Summerland.
  • People used to come from far and wide to shop here on those days when the old 5 to a dollar store had special sales events. The right draw can work.
  • We have many artisans and craftspeople in town. How about a place where they can work together and display and sell their wares? I'm thinking of a visitor centre, complete with cafe, where you can go and watch a potter, a jeweller, a painter, a woodworker practicing their craft, then buy a piece of their work.
  • Folk who live within easy walking distance of the downtown are more likely to shop there. Once you are in your car, carrying on to Penticton is too easy!
  • Downtowns are a disadvantage to malls when it comes to shopping in bad weather. Cashmere near Wenatchee has an interesting partial solution to this with its continuous canopies covering sidewalks and crossings. Downtowns must make the most of their counter-benefit, a short walk from car to store.
  • One of the best things about our downtown is the angled parking and the consequent narrow roadway. The narrower roadway forces traffic to travel slowly. Pedestrians feel safer.
  • Many of the newer stores in our downtown focus on low price or secondhand goods. This is great for locals, but out-of-town shoppers will only be drawn to Summerland if specialty items are for sale here that cannot be found elsewhere in the valley. Rather than battling with Penticton and Kelowna, a better plan might be to accept that "our" shoppers go there for everyday goods and to draw "their" shoppers here with specialty items, for example artworks, antiques, etc. An extreme example of that idea in action is Leavenworth.

Article 5 - Industry in Summerland?

This e mail arrived from Barrie Karner the other day. Barrie raises an important discussion topic.

"If possible I would like to see some discussion around industry and what proportion of a community should be provided for industry or does anyone even know the answer to that question. Industrial lands are becoming increasingly scarce, in the Okanagan and the lower mainland as well as across Canada. A lot of people think it's better to not have industry but that's a bit like letting everyone else vaccinate their kids so you don't have to worry about vaccinating your own. I think a healthy community is an economically healthy community and that usually means economic diversity and I don't think that issue gets much serious consideration from a lot of people."

Barrie Karner

Barrie's words raise many interesting questions. Here's a few.
  • Should the Okanagan region attempt to be fully diversified economically or should it focus on existing areas of employment such as agriculture, tourism, wineries, providing retirement services, healthcare, etc?
  • We have an unusual climatic situation here with frequent temperature inversions that produce rapid pollution build-up at times. How much industry, and what type of industry, could the Okanagan Valley take?
  • Is it a good thing or a bad thing for Summerlanders to commute to industrial jobs in Penticton and Kelowna, as opposed to having industry here in town?
  • Should Summerland concentrate on retirement services, healthcare for the elderly, agriculture, etc.? or should we strive for full economic diversification?

Monday, January 16, 2006

Article 4 - Good Redevelopment, Poor Redevelopment

This article is intended to promote discussion prior to the Smart Growth workshop.

Redevelopment is a great way to revitalise and to create jobs and ongoing wealth without population growth. That is why, despite having relatively small population growth over the past 100 years or more, many small European towns are pleasant and prosperous places to live.

One of the best redevelopments Summerland has seen over the past 25 years was the Downtown Revitalisation project. Cracked sidewalks, a delapidated air, few shoppers and numerous unoccupied storefronts on Main Street were a sign that something had to be done! I one day counted 10 unoccupied storefronts on Main Street alone. It is easy to forget, but there were so few shoppers that, even at busiest times, there was always lots of parking available (even though the parallel parking of those days provided half as many spaces as today's angled parking does).
The downtown merchants had the courage and foresight to put up with months of disruption for better future prospects. Nowadays the downtown is an attractive place to be. Whilst there is still much that could and should be done to further support the downtown, the revitalisation project was a great success when the strictest test is applied, i.e gains v losses. Summerland gained a great deal, permanently, and lost nothing except some short term discomfort and temporary business stress.

For an example of a poor redevelopment, consider the replacement of McDonald school by the new middle school. The new building is functional and no doubt more healthy and comfortable than the old one. Having said that, the project managed to get almost everything else wrong plus it created problems where non existed before. Here's the sad score card.

  • Historic building of character, with design sympathetic to the downtown theme, replaced by a cookie cutter building designed with one thing in mind - lowest cost.
  • Jubilee road between the Dunham fields used to have a tight 90 degree bend that automatically kept traffic slow in the school zone. The sweeping curve in the new road alignment encourages higher speeds.
  • A staggered junction that worked well was replaced by a cross roads that immediately became a difficult junction to use.
  • The Dunham fields had a parklike feel, and they were enjoyed by all sorts of casual users. You could pull your car off the road and enjoy a walk, or play with your children for a few minutes. Today's flat, feaureless fields with their ugly chain links fences are unattractive and get little casual use. Phsychologically Summerland lost a downtown park when the Dunham fields disappeared.
  • The lower (northern) Dunham field, with its shade trees and grassy bank alongside the road, made a natural tiered seating area for spectators watching sports events.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Article 3 - What Kind of Growth?

This article is intended to provoke thought and discussion prior to the Smart Growth workshop on 25th January

It seems that the majority of Summerlanders either want growth or accept the inevitability of growth. I think most would also say that growth is good. But what kind of growth do they mean when they say that? Do they want growth that is primarily physical, or growth that is primarily economic? Or do they want both? All permutations are possible.

Physical growth is forever. There's no going back. This occurs when the primary focus is on building new subdivisions, industrial areas, shopping malls, etc. The end result is a doubling of everything. Jobs double, job hunters double, the population doubles, business competition doubles, the tax base doubles, municipal expenditures double, traffic and pollution doubles, and so on. Witness Kelowna

What are the benefits of physical growth?
  • Some people make money, e.g realtors, bare-land owners, developers and contractors.
  • More construction jobs
  • Big town facilities such as movie theatres, nightclubs and hotels move in.
  • The population meets franchise target levels so new retailers and big box stores move to town, providing more competition, lower prices and more variety.
  • Existing businesses have an oportunity to expand - if they are efficient enough to beat back the new competition.
  • Specialists such as dance schools and camera shops have a bigger population base to draw from.
Growth which is primarily Economic is very different. This occurs when the focus is on increasing wealth with little population increase. Examples would be a high tech employer moves to town, providing good jobs for existing citizens; or a new winery and vineyard is built on fallow land, creating ongoing income and wealth where none was before; or an existing facility is re-developed and rejuvenated.

What are the benefits of economic growth?

  • Total wealth created per capita increases.
  • Small town feeling is retained
  • More jobs with little population growth means more opportunity for existing Summerlanders
  • More locals can work in town as opposed to commuting.
  • More opportunity for young Summerlanders (very few of them are interested in a career in the construction trades, which is an oft quoted benefit of population growth)

What Makes a Summerlander - Encore

Something light hearted for Sunday morning. I savoured the Cream concert on PBS late last night. . Clapton, Baker and especially Bruce are looking old these days but their music is as fresh, powerful and driving as ever. Ginger Baker's lyrics to "Sweet Wine" struck home

"Who wants the worry, the hurry of city life?
Money, nothing funny, wasting the best of our life"

"Sweet wine, hay making, sunshine, day breaking, we can wait till tomorrow"

Friday, January 13, 2006

A Message from Mayor Gregory - Municipal Council's Goals and Objectives

Our new Mayor, David Gregory, kindly provided the following for publication.

In December Summerland’s Municipal Council promised to make public their “draft” goals and objectives for 2006. The intent of this draft was to allow the public to comment on these goals prior to adopting the final document.

Council met on two occasions to develop these goals. In the first meeting Council identified 21 defined goals with defined timelines to have these goals completed. Council also met with Municipal staff and together the group developed four vision statements of where the Municipality should focus its energy and resources.

On Jan 9th 2006 all of Council attended a workshop in Penticton with parliamentarian Eli Mina as the speaker. Mr. Mina recommended to Council that Council should initially adopt simple draft vision statements to permit public comment. Mr. Mina called this process developing a “Macro Agenda”. Following input from the public, these vision statements plus public comment would be submitted to municipal staff. Staff would then develop specific, well defined, goals objectives and a method to measure outcomes. He called this a ‘Micro Agenda’.

With this in mind, these are the four key vision issues that the Municipality should focus on :
1. the water system
2. Other infrastructure issues
3. Growth management
4. Communications

Council looks forward to any comments from the public on these four vision issues. Public comments can range from opinions on these broad statements to detailed concerns in each category. Any comments are appreciated.

Respectfully submitted
David Gregory

Comments and discussion are invited here, but please also be sure to send them directly to Mayor David.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Article 2 - Growth Pressures

This article is intended to provoke thought and discussion prior to the Smart Growth workshop on 25th January

Summerland is facing physical growth pressures (which doesn’t necessarily mean economic growth – more on this later) like never before. These pressures will continue into the forseeable future. What is driving this pressure for new subdivisions, new condos? Lots of factors have come together in an unprecedented way. Here are some of them.

  • Kelowna has grown very rapidly and is predicted to double in size again in 20 years. Folk who retired to Kelowna several years ago, thinking they were moving to a relatively small, peaceful city, now find Kelowna too big for them and they are looking for a smaller town to move to.
  • The 4 laning of Highway 97 will make Summerland much more accessible to Kelowna.
  • As Kelowna grows, and travel times within the city get longer and longer, a 35 minute commute along a 4 lane highway doesn't look bad.
  • The Coquihalla connector has made the Okanagan seem much closer to the lower mainland (just look at the recent growth in Westbank!)
  • The great success of the wine industry has brought a more affluent class of tourist to the Okanagan. Lots of them see it as an attractive place to live, or to have a holiday home.
  • The boom in oil prices has created a lot of very wealthy people in Alberta and in parts of BC. Those are the folk who buy second and third homes. They see the Okanagan as a great place to have a holiday home.
  • The explosive growth of lower mainland communities will continue, in part due to the 2010 Olympics. This will create more escapees looking for a quieter lifestyle.
  • Kelowna has grown into a mid-size city, and now provides shopping and other facilities to match those in the lower mainland. One traditional reason for not moving to the Okanagan has disappeared.
  • The internet and communications revolution allows many folk to work from home. Commuting to an office building is a dying concept.
  • Some of our realtors are promoting Summerland in far away places like California. A new breed of buyer is being added to the traditional list.

What does this all mean? It means opportunity and it means risk. We can "sieze the brass ring" by setting very high design standards, raising development cost charges to truly cover the long term costs of development, and picking and choosing the type of development we want (and how much development we want). Or we can say "full steam ahead and damn the torpedos" as Kelowna and Westbank did.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Article 1 - What Makes A Summerlander?

This short article is intended to provoke discussion and thought prior to the Smart Growth workshops.

People instinctively (sometimes unknowingly) sort themselves into like-minded groups. A common sorting method is choice of place to live. In other words, Summerlanders and Vancouverites are different. Summerlanders are (mostly) folk who chose to live in a small town rather than bigger places like Penticton, or Kelowna, or Vancouver. They are people who place more value on the benefits of small town living than they do on the advantages of city life.

What are "Summerland values" and the benefits of small town living? I suggest the following:-
1. A sense of community, of belonging. You know folk when you walk down Main Street.
2. Feeling safe. Summerland is too small to attract organised crime, prostitution rings, etc.
3. Lower property taxes
4. Few traffic problems. Few parking problems. No parking meters!
5. Compactness. Almost everyone is within a seven minute drive of the Downtown. For many, the Downtown is but a short walk.
6. Community involvement. A goodly percentage of Summerlanders volunteer, belong to churches or service clubs, etc.
7. Clean air. No industrial pollution to speak of.
8. A human scale. No multi-story towers or malls you can get lost in!
9. The benefits of strip malls, big box stores and industrial areas close by in Penticton and Kelowna, without the disadvantages that come with them such as heavy traffic, pollution, an ugly urban landscape, etc.
10. No rat race.

We have chosen to move here or to stay here. We forego the materialistic advantages of city living, such as higher salaries and better promotion prospects, for that small town quality of life.

Comments and discussion please!

Smart Growth Workshop Date Announced

The first Smart Growth workshop, led by SmartGrowth BC staff, will take place on the evening of Wednesday 25th January. The workshop will start at Centre Stage Theatre, then we will move into the High School to discuss specific topics in smaller groups. Each group will have a facilitator. All Summerlanders are invited to participate.
The focus of this first workshop is to determine the collective vision that Summerlanders have for the future of their town, and to discuss opportunities for Smart Growth principles to work in Summerland; a starting point, rather than a decision making tool. Later workshops may strive to find concensus on critical issues.
All information collected will be compiled, published, and given to Council and staff for consideration. Hopefully the new Official Community Plan will incorporate collective ideas.

The Association gratefully acknowledges the support of Council in this endeavour.

Please take part and help us to guide Summerland to a bright future!