PeachTree Village opponents took another kick at the can on Tuesday night.
A handful of the Friends of Beach Avenue were at the regular council meeting to complain about bylaws concerning their least favourite development.
“I suggest we hold a referendum!” Dora Stewart shouted from the gallery.
“Shh, don’t – Dora!” retorted Mayor Cindy Fortin before calling a ten minute recess.
Another PeachTree opponent was handing out flyers to suggest that those objecting to variances are being silenced.
The only opponent who was allowed to speak at the meeting was Coun. Terry Condon.
“My view on this Madam Mayor hasn’t changed a bit,” he said.
Condon believes Council is breaching its trust with the citizens by making zoning changes despite “Overwhelming rejection” from the public.
“Yet we continue to forge ahead in this manner … I would welcome the original concept we were presented with back in 2015.”
Condon doesn’t believe the project needed to redefine the Official Community Plan in order to succeed. He said the developer, Gaetan Royer, is known to be a “practiced and a particularly intelligent person” who would have done his homework before purchasing properties that were designated for three storeys.
Since concessions were made on behalf of the developer, Condon asked what favour the District received in return. Fortin asked if the question was philosophical and Condon said no, it’s genuine.
Fortin said the developers have been active members of the community, but the District can’t make demands and hold an approval process hostage.
“But given the volume of concessions we have made, did we get anything in return?” Condon asked. “I guess the answer is no.”
Fortin doesn’t agree that the answer is no. She says the benefit is a big, beautiful building that’s going to grow Peachland’s downtown and improve the economy.
“What I think that we’ve done here is the worst possible thing we could have done in terms of breaching the trust of our citizens,” Condon said, followed by a small applaud from the gallery.
“No clapping,” said the Mayor.
Fortin said although there was “a group drive to bring in everyone they could possibly get to oppose (PeachTree) at the public hearing (Jan. 30),” she believes the majority of Peachlanders are in favour of the project.
“I have been inundated with people who said they did not want to speak up or come to the public hearing because they’d seen how other people were treated and they didn’t want to subject themselves to that.”
The current council was elected to make changes, Fortin said.
To that, Stewart shouted “Hearsay!”
Fortin said the shouting was rude and inappropriate.
“You didn’t interrupt Coun. Condon when he was speaking and this is a democracy. Remember that; you keep saying that and I’m speaking now.”
Coun. Mike Kent offered more staunch support of PeachTree. He said the development “Very much hits the mark in number of goals set out in the OCP,” and the two properties belonging to PeachTree will eventually generate around $75,000 in annual tax revenue for the District, compared to just $4,500 now.
“It’s clear with our budgetary restraints that $70,000 would go a long way,” he said. “It’s not just a matter of what handouts do we get. This is a big step forward for the downtown commercial core.”
Coun. Peter Schierbeck agreed with the Mayor that opposition at the Jan. 30 public hearing did not reflect the majority of the community.
“I have had many people contact me and say carry on,” he said.
Council voted 4–1 on two final readings regarding variances for PeachTree. Condon cast the lone votes against, with Coun. Mario Vucinovic and Coun. Keith Thom absent.