Peachland Proposes New Zoning
So here we go again. There’s a new proposal for a Zoning designation on Beach Avenue between the 55+ center and Trepanier creek. From reading some the early opinions over at The Peachland View, it’s clear that there will probably be another long and time-consuming public battle.
Before I get labelled a ‘CAVER’ (Citizens Against Virtually Everything), people should know that they'd be wrong about that designation. They’d also be wrong to say that I support it. I’ve lived in Peachland for just four years. In that time, I’ve learned a few things about the community. There are many people who are apoplectic about any kind of change, and at the other extreme, there are an equal number who think the ends justify the means.
What triggers me more than having to face these issues is dealing with politicians who don't think they report to the people of Peachland. We live in a town of over 5,000 people where just 805 of us decide who’s going to be mayor. Somehow the former council butchered the OCP process while we quietly enjoyed our beer and lawn bowling.
Writing letters to editor is pretty much useless now that Dan Walton is gone. Dan was the last editor we had who had the power to cause politicians to rethink their strategies. It seems to me that The View now as little more than a “feel good” group-hug cheerleader for the power-brokers that want to run the town. That is OK too because their reach is dwindling as they refuse to modernize and adopt advancing technologies.
But regarding our own development, I know that half of the town will not like this, but imagine what a Fort Langley type development would look like in Peachland. I would quite like it. Three story buildings and thriving businesses, for me, have some appeal.
Parking, of course, will be at a premium. But if Peachland wants this kind of development, then perhaps developers are going to have to purchase the properties behind the development for parking. I won't be upset by whatever happens – AS LONG AS ITS A FAIR AND EQUITABLE PROCESS.
The real task for managing this project moving forward is going to be in monitoring your council. Who do we trust? If past practice counts for anything, then it suggests the council is not going to listen to anyone. If they have an agenda that precludes listening to citizens, then everything they do will be geared toward making that agenda work. We have some new faces on council this year, and some old guys are gone. I would have loved to seen the brilliant mind, and vast experience, of Eric Hall in this picture, but alas, this is our loss.
One thing I learned in conducting the legal research around overturning the bylaw allowing for a “drawing from the hat” for mayor is that it only takes two councilors to call for a special meeting on a specific topic. They mayor alone, can also call for such a meeting. Citizens of Peachland should never let an important matter be decided until there is nothing left to debate. We should never let council run around unsupervised or we stand to lose the town.
I'll use a well worn analogy about councils. Allowing them free rein is like playing chess with a pigeon. They run around the board, knocking over all of the pieces and crapping on things, then after the game, they strut around like they won the game.
Whichever way this process goes, I hope that each of you will be active, vocal, and tenacious about defending the process. I say “process” because the outcomes will not always be the ones we like, but so long as the process was fair, then we should be able to live with it. The exercise of a true and free democracy should rule the day.