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Penticton expands City boundaries for the first time in more than 30 years

For the first time in decades, the City of Penticton is getting bigger, geographically speaking.

During its regular meeting Tuesday afternoon, Penticton Council approved expansion of the City’s boundaries to include a 330-acre parcel adjacent to the Upper Wiltse neighbourhood, referred to as the Skaha Bluffs area.

The land is privately owned and was previously within the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS).

<who>Photo Credit: Google Maps </who>For the first time in more than 30 years, the City of Penticton is getting bigger as the Province has formally approved adding more than 300 acres in the upper Wiltse neighbourhood in the City from the RDOS. A developer plans on building 180 housing units on 150 acres and donating another 150 acres to the Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park.

About 20 % of the land is intended to be developed for houses, while about half of the land will be set aside as a protected parkland and conservation area. Half of the area, covering roughly 150 acres, is proposed to be donated by the Province as an extension of the Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park.

A developer plans on building 180 new housing units adjacent to the existing Wiltse neighbourhood and the additional land will enable the City to expand its tax base, with no negative financial impacts in the long-term, said City special projects manager Ben Johnson, during a presentation to Council Tuesday.

The annexation is the first in Penticton in a number of decades.

“This is really the final stage of the annexation process … this is the first time we’ve expanded our boundaries in Penticton in over 30 years,” said Johnson. “This is just an indication of where we’ve come from and what some of the next steps will be.”

<who>Photo Credit: Facebook Skaha Lake Provincial Park </who>Skaha Lake Provincial Park is going to get bigger after it was confirmed Tuesday at Penticton Council that a developer is going to donate 150 acres of land to the park in exchange for being able to build 180 new housing units in the upper Wiltse area of Penticton. The Province has approved adding 300 acres of land to the City from the RDOS as part of this development.

The area is well known as “the south bluff of the upper Wiltse area” by those living in that part of town, said Johnson.

The provincial government has sent documents indicating it has approved adding this parcel of land to the City, he said.

Johnson confirmed the developer has agreed to donate half of the land in question or 150 acres to the Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park.

“The area intended for development sits in the northwest corner of the lands,” he said.

There will be no issues with connecting water, sewer and electrical connections with existing City infrastructure once construction on the new housing development begins, said Johnson.

It has been concluded that this development would yield an estimated $42 million in tax revenue over 60 years, of which approximately $27 million would be municipal taxes, said Johnson.

<who>Photo Credit: Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park </who>Beautiful Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park will soon expand by 150 acres after Penticton Council heard the Province has approved a process to add 300 acres of land to the City from the RDOS. A developer will build 180 housing units in the upper Wiltse area of the City in exchange for donating 150 acres of land to the provincial park.

The costs of maintaining infrastructure and servicing the development in that period would be $17 million, leaving just under $10 million to support city-wide services

The conclusion is that this development would be self-sustaining financially and would not pose a burden on the City’s finances, he said.

This outcome is in large part due to the area’s adjacency to an existing neighbourhood and services. The subject lands have been identified as a future growth area in our community for a number of years.

The provincial government has thoroughly reviewed the application and approved this land annexation proposal, he said.

There was an extensive public consultation process held over an extended period of time as this project moved forward, he said.

“We really tried to get the word out there and we really tried to talk to people about about the pros and cons of bringing this land into the City,” he said.

There was very little opposition to this proposal throughout the process, he said.

“I think that was largely because we had those conversations in the community and people saw this a real win, particularly in terms of gaining that very valuable recreational area and ecological area and seeing that long-term protection of those lands as well as understanding this was a fair and reasonable place away from the City to grow, being adjacent to the existing neighbourhoods within the City,” he said.

<who>Photo Credit: Facebook Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park

Planning staff will present a defined structure plan for developing this area later this summer, including all necessary zoning amendments, he said.

There will also be formal public hearings as the development process continues, he said.

The donation of the land to the provincial park played a significant role in the buy-in by local residents to this proposal and the City will want final confirmation this will happen before any building permits are issued, he said.

“We are limited by geography for growth, so to expand into this south block for new homes and expanded park area is a great benefit for the community now and into the future,” said Mayor Andrew Jakubeit.

To view Johnson's presentation to Council, visit the website at www.penticton.ca.



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