Opinions On Economic Development

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Opinions On Economic Development

Post by dysprosium »

There are always a lot of hot topics for election but for me I think the most important is the diversity (lack of) in Penticton. Penticton is often viewed as a retirement oasis, orchard and winery, and tourism resort place, but lets face it- that's pretty poor diversity for youth employment.

Service & tourist based jobs are the biggies here, and they pay peanuts. With the cost of housing here, the economy just doesn't add up to a healthy future for this city.

My 2 cents and comments on a couple candidates (I am quoting this out of the Penticton Western, so if a candidate is reading and thinks it's inaccurate I'm sorry, please correct):

"Kevin Noonan, a retired businessman, said he would like to tap the agriculture sector for economic growth."
My comment: agricultural jobs are mostly low paying. Maybe some original land owners are making a buck. Unfortunately the price per acre vs the price being paid for the product coming off the land make no economic sense, especially for young people/new business people who have the interest to do it. I think it's a ridiculous notion to put too much focus here. What is concerning is who will be buying agricultural land in the near future? Will they be using this land for agriculture or will the trend continue to be estate homes?

"Gary Leaman, who said he had already done a “tour of duty on council a few years ago,” said although less critical during periods of slowing growth, leadership was required to ensure development is consistent with the OCP."
My comment: this community is dying. Literally. Sure keeping consistent with the OCP can have some importance, but if it's creating roadblocks to economic growth, concessions and outside the box thinking may be needed- not just blind adherence to the OCP no matter what.

I was saddened when Penticton turned away a prison for the area. All the side benefits and jobs from it! This town needs to be embracing, no chasing away, higher paying development proposals.

Anyway those are just a couple cents worth of opinions.
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Re: Opinions On Economic Development

Post by brobert »

Check out our Blog where candidates have outlined their vision for economic development:
Gary Leaman
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Joined: Nov 3rd, 2008, 10:16 am

Re: Opinions On Economic Development

Post by Gary Leaman »

In my comments at the GenNext forum I said that demand for changes to an OCP drops substantially in the absence of community growth and in a slow economy. I expect that we will see reduced demand for OCP amendments over the next three years.

Communities grow based on development, based on what someone is prepared to do, not necessarily on what an OCP calls for. Often compromise and fine tuning are required to balance interests. Lowering of our standards or abandoning our vision will not bring development. Neither will it help us achieve our potential as a great small city. Every community is hungry for clean industry and good jobs. Penticton must develop a unique selling feature in order to stand out. We must research, and target a niche industry, such as software development. We must adequately fund and support the Economic Development office to do that.

Recent history has Allysen Place, My Second Home (water slide site), Rivendell, P2 (former Super Valu site), a project at the former Juniper Motors site on Westminster Avenue, a development on Marina Way, and the three tower Delta hotel/ condo complex (Skaha Lake campground site) all either being abandoned or being only partially realized. These were all substantial high density developments requiring rezoning and OCP amendments and enormous amounts of City staff time, for naught in most cases. We cannot assume that all developers adequately research the market demand for their projects or that they will not end up looking like the stalled condo development project on Winnipeg Street or have a net result of removing infrastructure like the water slides. We currently have a 2½ year supply of condominiums for sale in Penticton. What would the number be if the other 1100 units above had all been built?

One need look no further than the soulless development of West Kelowna to see what unchecked development will do. Penticton has a fixed community footprint, and zero greenfield development sites. There have been a number of OCP amendments that have diluted the retail/ commercial density of our City. Retail/ commercial work best when found in heavier concentrations. Our history of rezoning industrial land, (Canadian Tire, West Duncan Avenue, the Lordco Auto Parts site, Value Village) have all diluted the massing, to the detriment of our downtown core. The Three Gables site has been vacant for almost 12 years. If a development is economically viable in the marketplace, it will work in a location compatible with the spirit of the OCP. Some land assembly may be required.

One of my enduring complaints is that the City consistently undervalues what it brings to the table in negotiations, whether it is with prospective developers, Ironman Canada, or the purchasers of the dormitory site adjacent to the SOEC. The interests of our community can be better represented.

We have an OCP for a reason. You cannot achieve the vision, if you don’t follow the plan.

Gary Leaman
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Re: Opinions On Economic Development

Post by spacecadet »

Thank you, Mr. Leaman, for your comments on the OCP. There was such a lot of hard work done on our Plan, and it has bothered me everytime we changed it willy-nilly to accommodate a Developer's dream of what THEY thought Penticton should look like. I always wondered why people could just not develop with our vision in mind?
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Re: Opinions On Economic Development

Post by twobits »

Good post Gary, thank you. Just some comments

Yes, the OCP should be respected. Having said that, it cannot also be cast in stone. Most of the developments you cited were OCP amendments however they were amendments more in degree than complete right turns. They were amendments more in densities than land use. Total disregard for the OCP is rezoning residential to commercial. Tweaking the OCP is rezoning medium density residential to high density residential. You are correct in that council cannot decide if a developer has adequetly determined market. That would be a dangerous path to follow.

I am not sure what your reference to "souless" development in West Kelowna. I am presuming you are refering to the seamingly endless malls and box stores on First Nations lands? I too would lament a repeat of that here in Penticton. Your opposition however, should you find yourself at the council table, would be seen as a possible conflict of interest given your position as the manager of Cherry lane. Personally I would like to see the eventual development of the airport lands not in commercial, but industrial if anything. The lands are suitably flat for large building structures and are nicely buffered from the city via the channel parkway and the channel itself. End use unfortunately is out of our hands so council has to tread very carefully in extra terrestrial servicing agreements. I do see a bit of irony in your views of some of the OCP rezonings being to the detriment of the downtown core. My memory recalls the OCP rezoning and building of Cherry Lane as being the original and most serious blow to the downtown core.

You are correct that Penticton has a fixed footprint. But it does not have to remain so. We are confined by two lakes and First Nations lands to the west. Penticton needs to expand it's boundaries now while there is landowner appetite for amalgamation.....before these lands are developed with housing on 10 or 20 acre lots and there then becomes a disincentive to joining the city and paying taxes to the city. The NE sector lands, Upper Carmi, Upper Witlse areas will not all of a sudden explode in rampant development. Servicing costs to the developer are high and the market will determine when it happens. The key though is to get these lands in now so that they are contributing taxes and long range planning can be done. Planning cannot be done until it is within city boundaries. I would also add that all of these areas are targeted by our documented smarth growth principles.
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