Association of Citizens for Summerland

Friday, August 18, 2006

Petition for a Referendum

The Association of Citizens for Summerland has initiated a petition asking Council to hold a general Referendum to guage support for the sale of approximately 300 acres of Muncipal land to the Summerland Hills Golf Resort and Housing Development.

Signing stations will be set up in Downtown Summerland on the week-ends of August 26th and 27th, September 2nd and 3rd, and at the Summerland Fall Fair on September 8th thru 10th.

We encourage residents to support this initiative, as a referendum would help to end the division in our community regarding this issue.

A REFERENDUM is warranted

We don't all have to agree on what the eventual use of the municipal property might be. The municipality's intention to sell the entire 298 acre piece to one developer with no competitive bidding process and very little public input is the issue at hand. With this as the current direction of Council, a referendum is warranted, to gauge if the public is in support of this decision.

Here are some facts regarding the municipally owned land and some of the history to this point.

The 300 acre municipal land parcel has NOT yet been sold to thisdeveloper. The recent OCP amendment and Neighbourhood Plan approval in no way commits the Muncipality to selling this land parcel to this developer.

The sale of municipal land should go through a competitive biddingprocess to ensure the best deal for the taxpayer.

A serious agri-tourism proposal was submitted to the muncipality for this land in 2005.
During the 2005 Municipal elections, the city of Penticton posed areferendum question on the intended use of City owned land near MunsonMountain to determine if the community supported a ball park project.

The Summerland Hills Development, requiring 300 acres of Municipal Land, is a 780 million dollar project with a build-out population increase equalling the current size of Peachland.

Alternative uses for this land, with equal social and economic benefitand far less infrastructure costs, have not explored or considered.

The "alternative uses" comment points to the fact that, now that Council has decided to grow out in this direction, there has not been serious consideration given to any other plan than that of sale to and amalgamation with this 1000 acre resort development. If this land were opened to other bidders, an alternative use or alternative bidder might propose a tourist winery development, or an affordable housing initiative, or an agricultural university campus or any combination of uses. In fact, the 1988 North Prairie Valley Concept Plan by the RDOS had advocated sale for small holdings (2-5 acre) with rural designation. There are many possibilities. This area has long been designated as future growth. But with Municipally owned land, it should be a question of choice to ascertain the best and highest benefit for the entire community. Different ideas, choices or designs have not been compared and contrasted in a cost versus benefit manner.

Should this land be sold in this way for this development? This should be asked of our community.