A limited-duration rock crushing operation will begin later this month in a residential community south of Penticton where a developer is also offering a free donation of parkland.
Blasting has already begun to clear the way for the 29 lots that make up the third and final phase of the Vintage Views development in the Heritage Hills area on the east side of Skaha Lake.
To save the cost and nuisance of hauling an estimated 1,000 truckloads of blast rock elsewhere for crushing, then bringing it back to Vintage Views to use as fill, the developer applied to the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen for a temporary use permit to run the operation on site until May 31.
The RDOS board unanimously approved the plan last week with two special conditions: the developer must meet weekly with residents to provide information and respond to concerns; and post a $5,000 security that will be forfeited if terms of the permit, such as limited hours of operation, are violated.
Developer Johnny Aantjes told the board he is “uncomfortable” with the security requirement, which is “penalizing me ahead of giving me a chance to do the operation in the proper manner.”
“Prior to me having this phase three on my own, there were some problems in Vintage Views and Heritage Hills with the way business was run, and I fully appreciate concerns, but in the last three years we’ve done things, I believe, professionally,” he said.
Tom Siddon, the RDOS director for the area, said the special terms of the permit were drafted in response to concerns of residents, some of whom weren’t pleased with the traffic, blasting and other issues associated with those earlier phases of work at Heritage Hills.
“The history of this development is not very pleasant,” said Siddon. “So the way in which this blasting and crushing unfolds is of great concern to the residents.”
Aantjes has also offered the RDOS a one-hectare lot inside the third phase of Vintage Views for the local government to develop as a park and emergency exit from the community.
Chief administrative officer Bill Newell noted the previous Heritage Hills developer fulfilled all requirements for parkland through a cash-in-lieu payment and the latest offer goes above and beyond that.
The proposed parkland does, however, feature some “idiosyncrasies,” said Newell, such as overhead power lines, a lagoon and some debris.
“Nevertheless, it’s a nice natural area,” he added.
A preliminary agreement to donate the parkland would see the RDOS give the developer a tax receipt for $180,000, plus consideration on naming.
Siddon noted that any problems on the parkland, such as contamination, would “become our burden” if the RDOS takes ownership of it, so he called for a measured approach. He’d also like to give residents a chance to vote on the matter.
There’s no timeline for completing the park deal and the RDOS board will have to give it final approval.