A virtual Public Hearing was held Tuesday night in which Merrittonians were given the opportunity to have their thoughts heard on the proposed development on Lindley Creek Rd.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the public were not able to attend the hearing in person, but were given the option to send letters of opposition or support, which were then read aloud by staff for council and the public to consider.
Over the course of the one-hour hearing, staff read numerous letters which indicated an overwhelming opposition to the project.
Issues cited were a lack of infrastructure in Collettville, such as sidewalks and proper ditches and storm drains, as well as increased traffic and loss of Collettville’s character.
“This property used to be rangeland, then bought and converted into residential low density,” read one letter.
“Now, a developer after purchasing wants to change the neighbourhood to high density. This is not acceptable to the history of Collettville. The purchaser of the… property in question must have understood the current designation and if they did not like the designation, they should not have purchased it, and the developer should not proceed down this road.”
Mention was made that Collettville had been promised sidewalks, among other amenities, when they joined Merritt more than two decades ago. These have never materialized, and the suggestion was that the City should fulfill its promises to Collettville residents before moving land by designation out of the neighbourhood in order to begin a new project.
“As we all know Collettville joined Merritt out of the TNRD in the mid-1990s, when we joined Merritt we were promised the moon,” read a submitted letter.
“No ditches; storm drains, and sidewalks, none came true to today’s date. As you are, or should be aware, of the dire need of sidewalks on the street and with the new development proposed the increased traffic will only put more emphasis on the safety of not only schoolchildren for Collettville Elementary, but every citizen that walks there… How does the City plan on addressing the already high traffic in that area and the safety of the community?”
Another letter raised the question of water, with watering consumption, restrictions and access being a hotly debated topic at council for several years.
“Based upon the Dec. 15, 2020 water meeting of council, we don’t have enough water now to meet the needs of our population, so how, when at what cost and whose cost will the needed wells and storage infrastructure be provided?”
The same citizen also raised other infrastructure concerns.
“…where are the approximate 200 school students going to be schooled?” they asked.
“What sewage treatment facility expansion will be required for the approximately 375 new proposed homes, who is going to pay for that expansion? Will this expansion on the south side of the Nicola require an attendant fire hall and at what cost, paid by whom and located where? Will City Planners require neighbourhood commercial and recreation/park facilities to encourage walking and biking, rather that automobile orientation?”
Following the Public Hearing, Mayor and Council debated both the OCP Amendment Bylaw and the Zoning Amendment Bylaw, which would see the parcel redesignated as ‘South Merritt’ from Collettville, and change the zoning to Low Density Residential (R2), Medium Density Residential (R7) and Future Development (FD) to Medium Density Residential (R7), Mobile Home Park (R5) and Park & Cemetery (P1).
Councillor Kurt Christopherson spoke in support of the change, reassuring people that Collettville would still maintain its character.
“Changing the sectors isn’t going to change the character of Collettville,” said Christopherson.
“I think people want to make sure, they’re a little frustrated or maybe fearful that all of a sudden changing them to another sector was going to undo previous agreements and it was a way of slipping this development in, I just want to make sure that it’s clear that there’s no ulterior motives going on.”
Councillor Bhangu was not in agreement.
“I disagree with some of the points made here by the other councillors, I strongly feel that is a part of Collettville and always has been a part of Collettville and for that reason I think it should remain a part of Collettville.”
The Third Reading and Adoption of the OCP Amendment were carried with Councillor Bhangu opposed.
Third Reading and Adoption of the Zoning Amendment were also carried with only Councillor Bhangu opposed.
You can review the existing land use and zoning, as well as a conceptual map of the proposed site, by visiting the Jan. 26 Public Hearing agenda.
Morgan Hampton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Merritt Herald