More than 400 Sonoma Pines homeowners are pleading for the Westbank First Nation (WFN) to reconsider proposed rezoning plans for parcel of land adjacent to their neighbourhood.
Homeowner Mary Trueman said she and her neighbours were promised by the WFN that the area next to Sonoma Pines would be zoned for low density housing, but now with plans for commercial buildings in the works it is set to become a high density zoning area.
“It will change the whole complexity of the area and we feel it is really unfair because the properties we own here are on a 99-year lease with the WFN and the head lease is held by the government of Canada, and we were told when we bought our homes we were told things would stay as is. We were told the area would stay at low density,” said Trueman.
The WFN is consulting with Broadstreet Properties to possibly build an additional 276 units on a vacant parcel of land directly fronting Mesa Vista Drive at the corner of Sonoma Pine Drive and Carrington Road.
“This means they want to put close to the same amount of people who already reside in Sonoma Pines in this small space,” said Trueman.
There would be 250 units in three six-storey buildings and 26 two-storey townhouses grouped in four and six unit clusters, all of which would be rentals.
“Everyone in Sonoma Pines are homeowners and we are a close-knit community who are mostly retired, and we work very well together. We have a good group of board members and if renters come in we will have more noise and a heavy flow of traffic, which we already have an issue with along Sonoma Pine Drive,” said Trueman.
She said residents have asked WFN multiple times to install a four-way stop at the cross streets of Sonoma Pine Drive and Carrington Road, but any work has been cancelled or delayed due to costs by the B.C. Ministry of Transportation.
“We understand there is still no plan for a four-way stop as the developer has said they will consider paying for a roundabout, but this could be two to three years away. We need to control traffic at this intersection now, not when someone is killed or a developer will pay for it,” stated a letter written by a Sonoma Pines homeowner to the WFN.
There are about 800 homeowners in Sonoma Pines and if the proposed rezoning is approved by WFN council, it could mean another 300 plus more cars requiring access to a one-lane street.
The WFN said they haven’t made a decision yet as the proposal is still in the consultation phase.
“We are currently still within the consultation phase. Granting of Initial Consideration also requires the applicant to conduct studies and provide reporting to evaluate the impact of the proposed development,” said WFN planner Graeme Dimmick.
“The results of the consultation, reporting requirements and staff recommendations will be brought back to the council for their final consideration.”
Truman said the WFN refused to show any traffic or land studies to homeowners when they were requested and weren’t consulted with about the housing density plans until very recently.
“We were just informed about the rezoning plans and today (May 22) was the last day we could send letters to the WFN stating why we don’t want the development to be built,” said Trueman.
On June 3, the WFN council will vote on the proposed rezoning of lot 348-3.
“Unfortunately, we have had to get lawyers involved and if the WFN vote in favour of a high density area, we will have to fight it. We have no problem with a commercial building on the lot, but we thought it would be a store which closed at (6 p.m.) and didn’t bring in a lot of traffic,” said Trueman.