The Peachland OCP Debacle
This is probably Peachland's most important and most contentious issue. If you read “The Peachland View” (and everyone should!) then you will realize how much of a mess this is.
When I first moved to Peachland in late 2015, I was struck by the ongoing fight a group of citizens was having with the town's Mayor and council. As someone who comes from a very long line of “fighters for the people”, I was quickly interested in this mess.
- [True Story] My great, great grandfather is the guy who started the “Luddite Movement” in England around 1810. You may have heard about people who reject progress. They are often labeled “Luddites” by some politicians. Back in 1810 big businesses found that they could lay-off workers if they switched to using the new steam-powered machines introduced to power the woolen mills. My great, great grandfather was named “Joshua Swallow”. He wrote to the newspapers of the day (in much the same way that I now write to the papers and to social media) to expose rogue leadership. He wrote under the name “Nedd Ludd”, and quickly built a following. His followers were called “Luddites”. And now you know the “rest of the story!”
I, naturally, had sympathy for the citizens, who seemed to be very angry about changes to the OCP that would allow this “5-Storey” building at 4th street and Beach avenue. This seemed reasonable.
As my involvement grew, and as I did more research on the subject, I began to see some things on both sides of the story that I didn't like. Remember, I am all about justice, transparency, equality, democracy, and accountability in public administration. As of June 17th, 2018 I have a renewed take on matters. Here are my thoughts and observations to date:
- The Peachtree Development – I contacted the developer to see if I could get his project designs. He sent them to me within an hour of my request. I looked over everything on the design. Here's what really struck me – The building height of the Peachtree Development is 54 Feet. Forget about the number of stories! The building height is 54 feet. The building height of the Gateway building that houses “The Bliss” is 52 feet, I'm told! I no longer see this as an issue.
- One building is three stories and is virtually the same height as the other building that is five stories. Height is the key point here. This building is no longer the issue for me. The real issue is Peachland leadership!
- Friends of Beach Avenue – This group of people write letters to the Peachland View and are very vocal about changes to the OCP. But as I attend council meetings and committee meetings I find that not a single one of them comes out to participate in the process, or to offer constructive input that would make a better Peachland! I have news for these misinformed citizens: You fail to understand how democracy works. You don't get to sit back and throw stones if you are not willing to roll up your sleeves and do some work. Your lack of research and understanding of this project only harms the community in the long run. You lost your claim on credibility long ago. The OCP controversy only got this bad because YOU failed to participate along the way. Never mind your excuses. Either get in involved to make a better Peachland or cut your whining.
I am beholding to no one. I am never stuck on one issue and I am never unable to assimilate new information. So to those of you who might be miffed that I now hold different views on this project, I say “suck it up buttercup”.
To be fair, I plan to meet with and interview everyone on council and the mayor so that I can make an informed assessment. I feel like there was a group of citizens aligned to stand against the current council no matter they came up with. I'm not going to be part of that game. I will accept nothing less than a win for Peachland.