Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Vernon Council Approves Controversial Variance - Dangerous precedent set, say opponents

Kate Bouey

Vernon city council held its collective nose Monday and approved a controversial development variance permit on 600 acres of land in the Commonage. Only councillor Bob Spiers voted no. The permit will allow the development of a 28-lot subdivision around environmentally-sensitive land off Chum Road. Councillor Mary-Jo O'Keefe says the regional district had a chance to buy the land some years ago and turned it down. ``It's very disappointing when things like that happen but now I think we have to go forward and make the best of it,'' says O'Keefe. She stresses that council should not ``impede private ownership of land.'' The council chamber was packed with opponents to the variance permit. North Okanagan Natural Areas Preservation Committee spokesperson Dave Kennedy says City staff failed to adequately answer the issues, accusing them of ``dodging'' a question about whether council's decision would set a precedent which could be followed by other rural developers. The owner of the land in question, Bob Armstrong, insists that council's approval of one 200-acre parcel will actually better-protect that land. ``It can restore itself again,'' says Armstrong. ``It's been trampled and trodden and run over with dogs forever and I think it can be more beautiful there than it is now.''

Opponents of the variance permit (photos courtesy of Maria Besso).


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I have been a resident of Coldstream since 1976. I have had 15 years of experience on Council, 3 years as Mayor. As a current Councillor I am working to achieve fair water and sewer rates and to ensure that taxpayers get fair treatment. The current direction regarding water supply is unsustainable and I am doing all I can to get the most cost effective water supply possible.