With the public hearing on Banks Crescent project scheduled for Feb. 5, Mayor Peter Waterman says there has been a lot of information gathered in the year-long consultation period.
When the project received a first reading in Nov. 2016, Waterman said the city was planning to take it slow, though this has been longer than expected. Every time you have a meeting, he said, it’s another two weeks before you meet formally to follow up.
“Before you know it, you’ve passed a month and you’re waiting for reports to come back and forth,” said Waterman, adding that council wanted to collect all the information it could, like the Golder review of the aquifer protection plan, which only came back this month.
“There’s certainly lots of stuff on our website, in terms of material from our staff reports. Virtually every council meeting there has been a fairly comprehensive staff report,” said Waterman. That amount of information, he said, means it’s time to get to a public hearing.
Waterman said despite having to deal with some aspect of the project every meeting, council and the district have continued to move forward on other projects for Summerland. That includes items like the report on affordable housing delivered last week and approving other residential developments.
“For us to have 60 single family homes be initiated into 2017, I’d say that’s probably pretty much a record. This coming year is probably going to be even more so in terms of total value,” said Waterman. Making Summerland an appealing place to live is a priority of council, he explained.
“We’re trying to present a community and broaden the appeal,” he said, noting that supporting lifestyle factors, like investing in the arts sector, working on the Giant’s Head trail system and supporting the skate park are all part of that drive.
“There’s a lot of effort being made to encourage a way of life that’s already here and to make it even better,” said Waterman. “If Banks does move ahead, there’s a tremendous opportunity there for the community in terms of funds to get on with projects and to get on with remediation of our infrastructure.”
If it is built, Waterman said the Banks Crescent project would add about $490,000 to the district’s tax base each year, plus doubling the community’s development cost charges reserve. Then there are the 125 ongoing jobs at the facility.
“It really does have a broad impact on the community,” said Waterman. “You have to build a lot of houses to make the same impact as one major development.”