Association of Citizens for Summerland

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Downtown

Smart Growth principle #1 states "Mix land uses - neighbourhoods have a mixture of homes, retail businesses, recreational opportunities, etc."

Two Summerland specific questions were asked. "What practical actions could we take to encourage the re-development of our downtown core to include mixed retail/residential buildings?"
  1. Encourage Urban growth and containment rather than sprawl.
  2. Define a downtown development area
  3. Introduce incentive policies for downtown redevelopment, e.g. tax breaks, zoning bonuses.
  4. Review fire and licencing restrictions.
  5. Support downtown businesses to create favorable business conditions
  6. Encourage the formation of business cooperatives to assemble land parcels large enough to make mixed higher density development possible and economical
  7. Provide for a mixture of spaces (residential and commercial) including smaller spaces to make rents affordable
  8. Clean up the backside of buildings, especcially along Wharton Street, to improve the ambience of downtown
  9. Expand the downtown improvement theme e.g. trees, street lamps, brick pavers to neighbouring and connecting areas
  10. Make the downtown more pedestrian and scooter friendly
  11. Develop people places, e.g. plazas
The second Summerland related question was "What forms of mixed use should be encouraged for Lower Town?"

Comments on this topic were:
  1. Respect and maintain viewscapes - concern about unsuitable buildings.
  2. Better trail/pedestrian connections to down town.
  3. Perhaps some small tourist/boutique commerical.

Smarter Infrastructure? Green Buildings?

Smart Growth Principle #8 Says " Utilise smarter and cheaper infrastructure and green buildings"

Group C discussed this Summmerland specific question "How could we make our infrastructure smarter and cheaper?"
  • Build less expensively-utilize existing infrastructure more wisely.
  • Change bylaws to be more cost effective
  • More use of alternate energy sources---City to take the lead in this.
  • Incentive based taxes.
  • Inefficiency
  • Utility Grids
I assume that the first item relates to infilling within the sewer specified area and building where roads, water mains, gas and electric already exist

Could someone who took part in this discussion explain the thinking behind the comments "Inefficiency" and "Utility grids"?

A second question posed was "Should an extra development cost Charge be levied on new buildings that do not meet the highest efficiency standards?"

From the notes it appears that this group thought it would be more palatable to start DCCs at a high level and give a deduction to those who built to especially high efficiency standards, rather than charging a penalty for not meeting highest standards.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Transportation Choices

Smart Growth Principle 3 states "Provide a variety of transportation choices." The specific questions posed to Group C were:-

"Should neighbourhoods and the downtown be linked with cyclepaths and walkways? How could this be done? Who would pay?
Group C had two suggestions for cyclepath/walkway links, and one comment:-

  1. Illahie Beach Camp Ground to lower town walkway/cycle path
  2. Centennial trail to town is under construction/improvement
  3. "Neighborhood" needs to be defined to answer this question

"Is public transport needed? How could it be made viable?"
These are the methods of private transportation that group C considered practical for Summerland

  1. Walking & Cycling
  2. Motorbikes & Mopeds
  3. Cars

Public transit improvements considered viable for Summerland are

  1. Enhance existing taxi service
  2. Enhance handi-dart
  3. Shuttle bus linking neighbourhoods

Which roads or areas of town should have cycleways and walkways?

  1. Wherever practical nodals should be linked to the downtown - so all possible areas.
  2. Existing roads and easements could be used to create cycleways and roadways

I'd like to pitch in here with another transportation idea. We have a high proportion of elderly citizens and the loss of a drivers licence is a real blow to them, especially as it often coincides with failing ability to walk any distance. Electric scooters are only a partial solution - they work for folk who live close to the downtown. I for one will be very reluctant to surrender my driving license when the time comes because of the huge loss of mobility.

Why not allow folk to use electric golf cart type vehicles, limited to roads within Summerland? This would be an in-between vehicle, giving more range and carrying capacity than a scooter but be limited to use within the town (not allowed on highway 97). I see these advantages

  • The special vehicles would make Summerland an especially desirable place to retire, and retirees with their safe pensions and higher health care needs are perhaps the best "industry" we could ever hope to have.
  • If they were fitted with side screens they would be relatively weatherproof
  • Their reduced speed and great manoueverability would allow folk with diminishing reaction time and reduced eyesight to continue to drive safely
  • They take up much less parking space than cars
  • Regular car drivers would spot these special vehicles easily and be able to allow for the driver's possibly reduced reaction times and all around vision.
  • Cheaper to buy and run than a car
  • More stable and safer than a scooter (I've seen 3 scooters topple over sideways during the last 12 months)
  • Can carry two people so an elderly couple could still go out together.

This idea works in posh golf resorts and in totally retirement oriented places like Sun City, so why not use it here?

Fostering a Unique Neighbourhood Identity

Smart Growth Principle 9 States "Foster a unique neighbourhood identity." Group D worked on this question.

The Summerland specific questions asked were "Which areas have a unique identity, and what makes them unique?"
  • Downtown tudor design
  • Fruit growing significance packing plant
  • Lakeside District is in flux
  • Garnet Valley is very rural
  • Pearch Orchard cooler and wetter
  • Happy Valley (wine)
  • Canyon View Hot and suitable for grapes

A general comment made by group D was "The above areas have remained unique because of lack of significant urban sprawl in these areas."

A second question posed was " How can Summerland maintain its unique identity yet provide the economic vitality needed for its residents?

Group D did not have time to address this question. Suggestions invited please, by means of comments to this post

Diverse Housing Opportunities

Smart Growth Principle #4 states: "Create diverse housing opportunities"

Summerland specific question: What type of housing is currently lacking in Summerland?
  • No rental apartment style housing
  • Encourage flex housing
  • Co-op housing

    What height restrictions are appropriate for Summerland?
  • Four stories
  • Buildings must suit the terrain protect views
  • Height depends on design and location

To this list I would add housing that is specifically designed for single adults/small families. Today we have many people of 25 - 30 who are still unmarried, and we also have many people who were married but are divorced and living alone again (or with a child). In Europe developers serve this large market by building and selling studio and one bedroom units of 400 to 600 sq.ft., commonly in 2 storey blocks of 8 units each. Each building could easily be mistaken for one very large house (until you notice the number of front doors!). The small size keeps prices low, utility and taxes to a minimum, and means minimal housework for young guys (maybe the best advantage of all).

Japan goes further and their starter units are smaller still, but the quality is high.