• Friday , 27 January 2023

2022 Year in Review

Omicron variant forces British Columbians to pivot 

The first week of 2022 began with COVID-19 safety plans being mandated for all B.C. businesses in the wake of the COVID-19 variant Omicron accounting for 80 per cent of new cases across the province.

B.C’s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry issued the order on Jan. 7 after earlier warnings to expect that up to one-third of a company’s employees may be off sick as the highly transmissible Omicron rapidly spreads. 

  At the same time long-term care home residents in the province were allowed two essential visitors as rapid antigen testing was rolled out within these facilities. Henry said the decision was based on existing staffing shortages and the expected attrition due to illness, as well as the need to protect the more vulnerable care home residents.

Trepanier interconnect project completed 

The Trepanier interconnect project was officially completed in January, finally linking Trepanier area residents with the $24 million water treatment plant that was completed in 2021.

The Trepanier Interconnect project had faced numerous delays, beginning initially with a difficulty getting in some butterfly valves followed by some leaks within the new piping that had to be located, excavated, and repaired and then some valving issues that coincided with a water main break on Princeton.

Recreation programming returns

In accordance with updated health orders announced by the province on Jan. 18, Peachland Recreation resumed adult indoor fitness programs effective Jan. 24, which marked the beginning of a general relaxation of COVID restrictions in 2022.  

First look at Todd’s RV site development

In January the community had a first look at the six-storey development project proposed for the Todd’s RV site on Beach Ave. 

Porchlight Developments revealed their plan to build six-storey buildings and beachside bungalows at 3946, 3966 and 3976 Beach Ave – then the site of Todd’s RV and Camping, which was located along the north end of Beach Ave on a four-acre semi-waterfront property.

Porchlight Development project manager Michael Shipley, and Neil Braun, one of the owners of Porchlight, hosted an online public meeting over Zoom to gather public feedback about their proposal, which drew a mix of praise and concerns from residents. 

Coquihalla Hwy between Merritt and Hope reopens to regular traffic

More than two months after being closed to regular vehicle traffic, the Coquihalla Hwy between Hope and Merritt reopened on Jan. 19.

More than 20 sites along the 130-km stretch were closed due to the flooding and washout events in November 2021. This included seven bridges that were either completely collapsed or had sustained heavy damages.

It was on Nov. 14 that the highway was completely shut off due to what the province dubbed an “atmospheric river” event, only reopening to truck traffic on Dec. 20.

It took 35 days of repair, utilizing over 300 workers, 200 pieces of equipment, and 400,000 cubic metres of gravel, to initially repair the highway enough to resume commercial traffic. The route is considered one of the most important in the province for moving commercial goods from the coast to the B.C. Interior.

Council approves Lakeview five-storey mixed-use development

The developer who brought Peachland The Gateway on Beach Ave received unanimous council approval in January to construct Lakeview, a similar type of building on the four parcels of land just across from The Gateway on 13th St, Lake Ave and San Clemente Ave.

Lakeview is proposed to be a five-storey mixed use development comprised of 28 residential units in four storeys above three main floor commercial units and a parking garage on a ground level podium. 

Peachland council unanimously approved the rezoning of the properties from Single Detached Residential (R1) to Mixed-Use (CR1) as well as a comprehensive development permit to allow construction of the mixed-use development.

Freedom Convoy makes Peachland stop

Over two dozen vehicles formed a Peachland contingent of the Freedom Convoy that travelled through the valley in late January, ostensibly in protest of federally mandated vaccinations for cross-border truckers.

About 25 vehicles assembled briefly on Beach Ave beside Heritage Park before heading north on the highway destined for a rally in 

downtown Kelowna, where a protest group was assembled in support of a large nationwide convoy that was reaching Ottawa to deliver their message to the prime minister.

The convoy on Beach Ave only assembled for a short time before moving on.

First look at Jackson Cres residential townhouse proposal

In February Noura Homes gave the community a first look at their proposed rezoning and Official Community Plan (OCP) amendment that would facilitate a new residential townhouse development in the Lower Princeton area.

The property, 6099 Jackson Cres., is located on what had recently been the lower portion of Turner Park. 

Funding announced for George Pringle Senior Secondary School

In February the province confirmed that Peachland high school students will attend what is tentatively called George Pringle Senior Secondary School instead of Mount Boucherie beginning in September 2027.

The Government of B.C. announced its commitment to providing $102.7 million to build a new high school at the site of George Pringle Elementary in West Kelowna. George Pringle used to be the Westside’s second high school and was attended by Peachland students until it was converted into an elementary school.

The site will once again become home to a high school as Mount Boucherie Secondary School is overcapacity and is expected to continue to grow, according to the school board.

Peachland parcel of land at the centre of a civil claim

A Peachland property that was sold by Westbank First Nation (WFN) to a numbered company became the centre of a civil claim.

On Feb. 14 WFN filed notice of civil claim against 1284464 B.C. Ltd. in the Supreme Court of British Columbia. 

The claim followed shortly after the completion of an independent investigation commissioned by WFN into the facts surrounding the sale of the property, which is located adjacent to the Ponderosa development in Peachland.

The claim states the sale was made for well below the assessed value by then WFN employee, Raf De Guevara, who conveyed title to the lands.

The allegations have not been tested or proven in court.

The defendant, 1284464 B.C. Ltd, is a company that owns a portion of the Ponderosa development, which was originally envisioned to include up to 2,100 housing units, a commercial and retail village centre, a winery and a golf course.

$40K price tag for Heritage Park washroom stairs 

During budget deliberations in March, members of Peachland council were presented with a capital request for $40,000 for Heritage Park washroom stairs.

The washrooms were delivered to Heritage Park in fall 2021 to complete an Interior Health requirement for the adjacent splash pad.

Council members were told that the washrooms wouldn’t be wheelchair accessible so wheelchair users will need to use the washrooms across the street.

Chief administrative officer Joe Creron promised to work with IHA to see if there was anything they could do.

Man dead near Antlers Beach following accident

An elderly man was found dead after a single vehicle accident at Antlers Beach where the vehicle had gone off the road into Lake Okanagan.  

On Mar. 24 West Kelowna RCMP members arrived to find a white Subaru Forester upside down and semi submerged, with a lone elderly male occupant still inside the vehicle, deceased.

The vehicle is believed to have been travelling southbound on Hwy 97 before it hit a concrete divider on the right front bumper then steered into the water.

Peachland Hub Society receives council support 

In April the Peachland Hub Society received council’s support to move forward with plans to substantially renovate and expand the 50 Plus Activity Centre into a community hub and annex.

While the municipality owns the building, the main hub project and annex project would be financed through grants and fundraising efforts by the various local community groups that comprise the society.

The society came to council seeking authorization from the district as well as a letter of intent for a minimum 10-year lease to show management and control of the asset after the project, a request that received unanimous support. 

The society presented plans to renovate the current 50 Plus Activity Centre and build an expansion. Throughout 2022 they hosted numerous fundraising events.

Council gives green light to Buchanan neighbourhood development

A rezoning application for a fifteen-unit strata development in the Buchanan neighbourhood received the go ahead from Peachland council in April.

The undeveloped property, located opposite Davis Cove Resort just below Hwy 97, was rezoned from Single Detached Residential (R1) to Multi-unit Residential – Low Density and Cluster (RM3) to allow for the townhouse project.

At the same time Peachland council also authorized the road closure and sale of nearby McKay Lane, which is the municipal roadway from which the property is accessed.

Interior Health reverses washroom decision

District staff efforts to persuade Interior Health to back down on their requirement for a washroom adjacent to the splash pad in Heritage Park paid off in May, when the municipality issued a press release stating that Interior Health Authority (IHA) has agreed to waive the requirement for a new washroom and water fountain for Heritage Park.

Previously, IHA had insisted there be washrooms installed next to the splash pad before it could be permitted to open, despite the fact that there is an existing accessible set of washrooms just across the street.

The decision followed continued discussions between IHA and Peachland’s chief administrative officer and director of operations, which included a site visit to the Heritage Park splash pad location. 

A speed hump would be installed at the crosswalk ahead of the splash pad opening and later a blinking light was also added to help improve pedestrian safety.

Platinum Jubilee

This year Her Majesty The Queen became the first British Monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee after 70 years of service. Peachland celebrated the occasion with two events – a procession from the Legion to Heritage Park held on June 2, followed by a British Street Party on June 4.

Budding Creations gets green light for second shop

In June, locally owned Budding Creations Cannabis Store received the green light from Peachland council to open a second location in the old pub space at the mall. Work has been underway for some time, but construction delays have pushed an opening date into 2023. 

This type of application requires public consultation so mailouts were sent to all properties and tenants within 100 metres of the site and also had a development notice sign posted at the location. 

The municipality received no feedback from the public at all. 

Church break-ins 

In June the Peachland United Church was robbed twice in the span of just one week, once on the same night that St. Margaret’s Anglican Church was also hit. 

The first incident involved a theft of the church’s $60 float. Then volunteers arrived at the Bargain Bin one morning to find both the thrift shop and the upstairs church had been forcibly entered. Across the street at St. Margaret’s Anglican Church, someone also forcibly entered to steal a computer.

Drowning near Squally Point

On June 18 a 34-year-old Calgary man, Oluwaseun Samson Adedeji, failed to resurface after jumping into Okanagan Lake from a boat near Squally Point, south of Rattlesnake Island. After an extensive multi-day search the body of the Calgary man reported missing was recovered. 

Two dead in ostensible murder-suicide

A man and woman were found dead inside of a home on Garraway Pl on a June evening, following an ostensible murder-suicide.

The Kelowna RCMP had received a complaint stating that a woman had received a call from her friend saying that a homicide had taken place and they were considering self-harm. Officers determined that the complaint was related to a property in Peachland and soon dozens of police and other emergency response vehicles were seen heading up Princeton Ave to Garraway Pl, while a plane circled overhead.

When the RCMP Southeast District Emergency Response Team entered the home they located an individual dead with what appeared to be self-inflicted wounds with a weapon nearby. A second individual was also located deceased in the home.   

It is believed that the two people were known to each other.

Crystal development approved

Porchlight Developments’ proposal to build six six-storey buildings and four luxury beachside bungalows at the site of Todd’s RV, received the final go ahead from Peachland council in June.

To facilitate the upgrade of the campground to a 46-unit tourist/residential project, the developer proposed an application to rezone the site to CD11 Todd’s Resort Comprehensive Development Zone from C6 Campground and R1 Single Detached Residential. The OCP and zoning amendment bylaws to allow this were adopted by Peachland council.

Fatal hwy accident

On July 5 traffic was backed up along Hwy 97 through Peachland for hours following a fatal collision between a semi and a small car. The collision happened on Hwy 97 just south of Princeton Ave. Unfortunately, the driver of the small car did not survive the collision.

Beachside Health announce clinic plans

After sitting vacant for several years, Peachland residents learned in July that a local couple had plans for Beach Avenue Medical Clinic to reopen as Beachside Health.

The medical clinic closed its doors back in 2019 when its main doctor retired and the remaining physicians also decided to leave after it became apparent that a new medical director couldn’t be found and since then, Peachland residents have had to leave town to see a doctor. 

The couple planned to open the clinic in the fall, but ran into some delays.

A Town Called Love

A Hallmark production crew arrived in Peachland in early August to film a new movie, “A Town Called Love”. Filming took place at two private residences on Princeton Ave, as well as various public and private downtown locations. 

Drowning tragedy at Swim Bay

In August a 57-year-old man from the Lower Mainland tragically drowned at Swim Bay. The man had been swimming in the area off 6th Street and Beach Ave with his friends and family members when he jumped in the water on his own then never resurfaced.

The man was successfully located and the lifeguards brought him to the surface and immediately administered lifesaving measures. EHS and Peachland Fire and Rescue attended but ultimately lifesaving measures were unsuccessful and the man was pronounced dead at the scene.

Inaugural Making Waves Mural Festival

Last summer, several of the exterior walls of the Legion hall, Peachland Pharmacy and Beach Avenue Medical Clinic were transformed by mural artists for the inaugural Making Waves Mural Festival, which took place at various locations from Sep. 2 – 4.

Candidates declared

In September candidates for the 2022 general election were declared. Candidates for Mayor were Keith Fielding, Cindy Fortin and Patrick Van Minsel.

This year Peachland had 13 candidates for Councillor: Kevin Bennett, Jason Best, Randey Brophy, David Collins, Terry Condon, Moira Goodman, Pam Cunningham, Alena Glasman, Rick Ingram, Mike Kent, Keith Thom, Rainer Udala, and Nick Walsh. Candidates for School Trustee were Karrie Fehr, Lisa Guderyan, and Gordon Wiebe.

Ponderosa Golf Course update

In September Toronto-based investment company, Romspen came to Peachland council with a new proposal for the Ponderosa Golf Course. Because of the complications of multiple land ownership, Romspen expressed a wish to proceed with development of the lands that they own directly. The proposal includes a nine-hole golf course that could be connected to a second nine-hole course in the future. Instead of the 1,700 units originally planned for their land, Romspen would like to build 445 units in phases, with the first phase (250 units) at the southern end of the land with access from Somerset Ave. 

Vote for change

When Peachland residents went to the polls in October they voted by large for change, returning only one incumbent candidate back to council and electing Patrick Van Minsel Peachland’s next mayor. 

Van Minsel won with 1,104 votes, followed by Keith Fielding with 983 votes. Incumbent Cindy Fortin ended the night with the lowest share of the vote, receiving just 293 votes.

Political newcomer Randey Brophy was elected to council with the largest share of the vote (1,382), followed by Rick Ingram (1,208), incumbent Terry Condon (1,157), Dave Collins (1,091), Keith Thom (1,081), and Alena Glasman (978).

Fire hall referendum supported

During the general election Peachland residents were also presented with a referendum question and voted to support the borrowing of up to $17.5 million for a protective services building. 1,729 voted in favour; 588 voted no.

Peachland Liquor Store break-in 

A suspect who allegedly broke into the Peachland Liquor Store in early November left empty handed only seconds after making their way through the walls to get inside. Store owner Eric Menconi believed the suspect was targeting cash on the premises as they took a kick at a bolted down safe before making a dash.

Earlier start to council meetings

In November one of the first orders of business for Peachland’s new mayor and council was to move their regular meetings an hour earlier than has traditionally been the case.

At their first regular meeting, a recommendation to revise the start time of all regular meetings to 6 p.m. from 7 p.m. on Tuesday evenings received unanimous council support. The public was given an opportunity to respond to the change but there was no subsequent opposition so the change was adopted.

Beach Avenue neighbourhood building heights a priority

Mayor Patrick Van Minsel wasted no time in asking staff to provide potential options for new zoning regulations for the frontage of the Beach Avenue neighbourhood to address building height and setbacks, and specifically to limit building height to three storeys. Building heights had been a contentious issue during the election and Van Minsel had promised to address community concerns.

Staff will bring forward their first steps in the new year.

First look at Thorne Road proposal 

A proposal to amend the Official Community Plan (OCP) and rezone a Thorne Rd property received first and second readings from Peachland council last month.

Local developer Steve Penich is proposing to subdivide his Thorne Rd property into an eight-lot single family subdivision.

The .81-hectare lot, located at 6785 Thorne Rd, is in the southwestern-most corner of the district in the Hardy Falls neighbourhood, approximately 300 meters southwest of and 30 meters above the Hardy St and Hwy 97 intersection. 

To facilitate an eight-lot subdivision, the developer is applying to amend the OCP land use designation for this property from Rural (RL) to Low Density Residential (LDR) and to rezone the property from Rural Residential (RR-1) to Single Detached Residential (R-1). 

Staff recommended council support the application because of the community benefits that the subdivision would bring; if Penich’s project goes ahead, the town is currently proposing that he be required to pave Thorne Rd from the existing pavement to just past Log Chute Rd and provide a sewer main installation from Hardy St to the west end of Thorne Rd, which will provide opportunities for other nearby residents, not just those on Thorne Rd.

5th St road closure won’t be supported

A proposal from the Peachland Seniors Housing Society (PSSS) to close off 5th Street from Waldo Way to Hwy 97 will not be supported by district staff, council heard from staff in November.

The proposal for phase two of the seniors housing project is to rezone four district-owned parcels (which include the current locations of the Peachland Wellness Centre, Peachland Food Bank, and Peachland Community Policing) to Mixed Use (CR1) to facilitate the construction of a 73-unit seniors housing building. 

In his quarterly report to council, director of planning and development services Darin Schaal noted that the application also proposes to close a portion of 5th St from Waldo Way to the bottom of the bank below Hwy 97.

Schaal said when the application was originally submitted they had proposed to close a portion of 5th St to consolidate it with the property, so it would have been permanent. The intention of that, he understood, was to provide on-site parking for phase two of the seniors Residences on 6th. 

However, since working with the preliminary review of the application, Schaal noted that they are not in support of the road closure and would ask for parking to be provided on site and/or the applicant submit a variance application to address the lack of on-street parking.

No big bathroom bidders 

The future of the washroom building in Heritage Park still remains uncertain over a year after its arrival in Peachland.

At December’s regular meeting Coun. Randey Brophy asked staff for their comment about the still unused washroom building in response to a post circulating on social media that included a link to an auction site where the facility was listed but did not receive a bid high enough to meet the reserve price.

“The staff tried a new auction,” said CAO Joe Creron. “They tried it, we don’t like the result, so we’ll probably go back to the original way we advertise these things but we thought we would try this new site.”

Part of the rationale for selling the washroom, according to Peachland’s director of operations Shawn Grundy, is that while there are other locations around the district that could potentially benefit from this installation, such as Lambly Park, there would be some fairly significant costs involved in servicing the building with sanitary sewer, water and electrical services.

However, the town hasn’t ruled out keeping the washroom, said Creron, although he made it clear his preference is to sell it.

Rare baby bobcat encounter goes viral

When Naomi Miller grabbed a phone to take a video of a tiny bobcat outside her window earlier this month, little did she know that within days the footage she posted to social media would be seen by millions of viewers around the world.

The video shows her cat scratching at the door with excitement as a young bobcat looks inside, drawing exclaims of awe from Miller and her daughter.

Within an hour the video was at 100,000 views, then 500,000 and by the next day the video had reached an audience of over a million people on Instagram.

“So, I posted it to my very small TikTok account and it started to spread there as well,” said Miller. “It’s now at over eight million on Instagram and over one million on TikTok and it’s not slowing down. I don’t even know if it ever will at this point.” 

The video is posted to Miller’s professional social media accounts on Instagram (@deltaandsound), Facebook (Delta&Sound) and TikTok (Delta&Sound).

Beachside Health medical clinic announces Jan. 23 opening date

Peachland residents can look forward to the opening of a local medical clinic on Jan. 23, when Beachside Health plans to welcome its first patients.

The clinic will be operated by Jubi Steinhauer and Sarah Kendrick in the former Beach Avenue Medical Clinic location, which has been vacant for almost four years.

The clinic will have a full time nurse in addition to a nurse practitioner, or NP, who will be assigned to them by Interior Health and the Primary Care Network (PCN), of which Beachside Health is now a member. 

An internist and nephrologist, Dr. Clouatre, will begin practicing out of the Peachland clinic on Jan. 23, which is the day that the clinic will begin to accept patients.

A GP or a NP will need to be in place before the clinic can begin taking new patients, which is expected to happen ahead of or sometime shortly after the clinic opening.

Once a NP or GP is in place, the clinic will be reaching out to those who have signed up on their list of people wanting to visit the clinic. Residents with patient requests, inquiries or a wish to be added to the list are invited to email info@beachsidehealth.ca.

Seniors housing project cost concerns

2022 ended with phase two of the Peachland seniors housing project appearing to be in possible jeopardy, if initial reluctance by the new council to fund the project is any indication.

Last year the Peachland Seniors’ Support Society (PSSS) proposal to build a 73-unit second phase of the Residences on 6th was approved under the BC Housing Community Housing Fund. 

However, initial response from the new council seemed cool with the mayor and at least two members of council expressing concerns about the district’s contributions to the $30 million project.

The society faced some tough questions from several members of council, particularly about the cost impact the project will have on Peachland taxpayers.

Mayor Patrick Van Minsel said the municipality gave up over $700,000 in planning fees and development cost charges (DCCs) for phase one and estimated planning costs and development cost charges for this phase of the project to be over $1 million. He noted the District of Peachland agreed to pay the regional district DCCs of about $150,000 for phase one and are expected to pay around $200,000 to the regional district for phase two, in addition to waiving at least $140,000 in community amenity contributions.

He also noted these costs do not include land value that the district is expected to lease for $1 for 60 years.

“What would be the impact to the project if we didn’t waive all DCCs and community amenity contributions in phase two, of approximately $1.5 million?” asked Van Minsel.

“I think the short answer is the project would collapse,” answered Fielding. 

At a subsequent in-camera meeting, council passed the following resolution:

“That the mayor formally request the Regional District of the Central Okanagan and BC Housing to pay development cost charges, DCCs and other fees for the Peachland Seniors Support Society  Phase two housing project, given that this project supports the Regional District of the Central Okanagan housing strategy, and would provide housing for regional district residents, and that BC Housing has historically paid DCCs for projects of this nature.”

The resolution was brought into the public domain at the following council meeting and the matter is expected to come before the regional board at their Jan. 19 meeting.

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