Drainage, density prove problematic for proposed Warfield condo development

Erin Handy
By Erin Handy
February 3rd, 2011

A new condominium project proposed for Warfield took a bit of a beating this week as the developer was swamped by citizen concerns about drainage and density at a public meeting in the village Monday night.

Kelowna custom homebuilder Paul Nesbitt has owned the 17.5 acre parcel of land in Lower Warfield between Montcalm Road and Sisel Lane for approximately three years. When an initial idea to build a number of estate homes on the site proved a non-starter with village staff, Nesbitt reworked the proposal dramatically.

On Monday he presented his concept for a four-storey, 204-unit, three-bedroom standard, luxury condo development to the assembled citizens, complete with drawings featuring a bridged vehicle entry accessed from Lytton Street and space for an optional community garden.
The public meeting was a proactive step, requested by the village council after they heard his presentation in chambers. If the development were to go ahead, the site would require at least a re-zoning to R3 multi-family with some kind of discretionary exemption for the height, or the creation of a whole new class of property in the village.
But the public wasn’t loving the proposal, citing particular concerns regarding a substantial increase in traffic along Warfield’s narrow roads and an ongoing issue with drainage at both the site and surrounding properties.
With 1.5 parking stalls allotted per unit, that’s a potential increase of 306 additional vehicles regularly using Lytton Street for access and the streets nearby for shortcutting, pointed out one adamant man, who angrily stated that he petitioned against a similar proposal approximately 15 years ago.
“Lytton Street. It’s a narrow street – tell me it’s not,” he demanded. “(It accommodates) two vehicles max. You’re telling me that street can handle 300 cars a day? . . . It’s a residential neighbourhood. Tell me how that doesn’t affect the people on that street.”
At which point Nesbitt got himself in some trouble with other attendees by calling the man “dude”.
“I didn’t go to finishing school,” he said in his own defence, a statement backed up by the sporting of an oversized leather jacket designed in a cowboy motif.
Otherwise, Nesbitt did a masterful job appeasing a potentially angry crowd of 75 or so residents, listening carefully to concerns about the swampy site and already-overloaded regional sewer system, and appearing appalled by a suggestion that some of the soil on the site might be contaminated with lead.
“If it doesn’t move past here, it doesn’t move past here,” he said genially, after a show of hands indicated the room was overwhelmingly against the proposal as it currently stands, though one thoughtful fellow pointed out there might be a little room to convince folks, if the issues raised can be addressed.
But for some in the village, development is no dream. Citing a history of unreliable economic growth in the region, the collection of upscale condos still sitting empty at Red and Redstone, and even an attachment to Mickey Mouse town as is, several speakers shot down the suggestion that additional housing might be necessary in the area to accommodate retirement turnover at Teck and incoming Waneta Dam workers.
“I think we have a nice little community here, and nobody is really excited about growth.”

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