Association of Citizens for Summerland

Monday, September 25, 2006

Council votes to discuss a Referendum

Your Association of Citizens for Summerland formally presented the signed Petition to Council at the September 25th meeting. Speakers at the meeting were Amie Harbor, Michael Cooke and Gordon Boothe. Here is the verbatem presentation by Amie Harbor, Association Director:

Thank-you for the opportunity to address Council on this important issue. The Association of Citizens’ Petition as circulated, read as follows: The District of Summerland owns approximately 300 acres of land which has been identified for use by the Summerland Hills Resort and Housing Development. I, the undersigned, request that Summerland Municipal Council present to the voters of Summerland, through full referendum, the opportunity to support or reject the sale of our publicly owned land for this development. A referendum to ascertain the wishes of the majority of residents should end the division within our community regarding this project.

We are here tonight to present to you 1386 petition signatures. These are your friends and neighbours. These are the people who elected you. This number represents 33% of active voters and more than double the number of signatures required to bring an Alternative Approval Process to a full Referendum. We have accomplished this in a short time, with little publicity, and using only volunteer commitments. Whereas little interest was shown in the dated 1996 OCP document, there is unprecedented public interest now. Nearly 1400 residents are asking you for the opportunity to vote on the sale of their land for this project.

Information, discussion and debate surrounding this Municipal land sale has been scarce. We found many residents to be unaware that the development involves so much public land. The developers have done a good job publicizing and promoting their project, so good in fact, that much of the community believes it to be a done deal already. Why do we need to depend on paid advertising or Letters to the Editor for information about this mega project? Our community deserves a balanced and factual account of the issues, including true costs and realistic projections of what it might take to see this proposal become a reality publicized by Municipal Hall itself. With this information in hand, residents could decide whether or not to be supportive.

A referendum or plebiscite will encourage discussion of the facts. What is the true value of this land? Why is this the best choice for our public land? Fourteen hundred residents are asking you for this information and the opportunity to vote.Our Association is asking you to value citizen involvement in your decision making process. This 300 acre parcel of land is owned by the taxpayers of Summerland and the monumental decision now faced by six Council members and Mayor will affect every single resident of our community, today and into the future. We are requesting that a Notice of Motion be tabled tonight, asking that “a referendum question on the Municipal land sale for resort and housing purposes be posed to the community.” The best decision you could make tonight is to give the residents of Summerland a voice on this issue.

Council voted to discuss the option of posing a referendum question on the Municipal land sale at the November 14th meeting.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Citizen's Association Press Release

In response to public concern, the Association of Citizens for Summerland has initiated a petition calling for a referendum to gauge public sentiment before Council moves further on the Summerland Hills Golf Resort and Housing Development.

Last month’s public hearing on the Neighbourhood Plan for this project revealed a community divided. Council itself was also split during discussion and vote on this Plan, specifically with regard to affordable housing initiatives and the use of the Municipal Land.

During the Municipal elections last year, the City of Penticton posed a referendum question on the intended use of city owned land near Munson Mountain. The Association of Citizens for Summerland hopes their Council will follow suit and allow the community to cast a vote on whether 298 acres of Municipal Land should be sold, without any competitive bidding process, for this 780 million dollar project.

Amie Harbor, a director with the Citizens’ Association comments, “Because this is the last large piece of land held by the Municipality, and the consequences of this sale will be far reaching, the decision should not be made by Mayor and Council alone. Does the community support selling this parcel of land for this project? A referendum will settle the issue in the public’s mind.”

Director Gary Strachan adds, “The residential component of this project will involve significant costs to the community, including an additional water source and treatment plant, a new electrical substation and considerable road improvements. Any future borrowing for these projects would need to be brought before the public through an approval process, so why not ask the community up front if they are in support?”

The ACS is well underway collecting signatures for the Petition. They will be setting up signing stations in downtown Summerland over the next few week-ends as well as at the Summerland Fall Fair.
Diane Northcote, Association Treasurer comments, “If the developers truly believe the community is in support of using our Municipal land for their project, I invite them to support our initiative for a referendum.”

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Completed petition forms are coming in thick and fast, and to date (5th September) we have just passed the 1,000 signatures mark. All signees declare that they are Summerland residents, over the age of 18, and registered voters.
In other words, roughly 15% of all eligible voters in Summerland have already signed.
At the Provincial level if 10% of voters sign a petition the Government is obliged by law to act upon it. If this was a Provincial matter we would be far in excess of the required number of signatures. Sadly no such legislation exists at the Municipal level - so Association members will continue to collect signatures. Look out for the booth at the Fall Fair.
The most surprising and gratifying fact coming to light is that the overwhelming majority of Summerlanders support this petition - very few people object or decline to sign. The Association has always felt this to be the case but it is so nice to see the proof.
In the light of the results we are seeing, how could Council possibly refuse to give voters a say via a referendum?