Protect businesses, don’t close them down

Protect businesses, don’t close them down

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The advertised “public question-and-answer session” for the proposed Centennial RV Park closure and new hotel was not what I expected at all.

To me “public” means both the questions and the answers are open for all to hear. Instead, the venue was set up for private conversations with various employees and council members. Unless you crowded in and were eavesdropping you couldn’t hear other people’s questions or the answers. We may not all have had the same questions and were there to hear all the concerns as well as support for the proposal.

There will only be a half-hour Q&A session at the next meeting on May 23rd which will greatly restrict the number of questions that people can ask. Perhaps these few comments and questions will give people an opportunity to do some research in advance.

I have high regard for our council and mayor. Most are longtime residents, friends and acquaintances who really love our town and care about all the residents, rural or town, who support it. I believe that as elected officials they really must be interested in hearing what the people of this town find valuable.

My questions are not meant to be inflammatory so I find it concerning that those of us who want to save our park, and support a new hotel, have been labeled as “nay-sayers.” Let’s all remain respectful and kind to each other regardless of differing opinions. We love this town too!

Those who want to save the Centennial Park would like to see this business open year-round to accommodate the many visitors and “snowbirds” who presently go to the Osoyoos campgrounds with their RVs and stay for months at a time spending their grocery, gas, shopping, dining, golfing and other entertainment money there. Remember that even summer visitors often stay for weeks at a time, unlike most hotel visitors who only stay a few nights, and do not support the local economy in the same way. With a restaurant in the hotel it is likely most of the dining dollars spent in town would benefit the hotel owner.

See the Town’s website, under “What’s Happening”/Hotel Development and scroll to Wine Village Geotechnical report. There was a Geotechnical report dated December 2005 on the tests done on the property in question, regarding the soil, moisture, test holes, ground water, etc.

This report states that the recommendations made were just a “preliminary appreciation for a low rise building… for “a light, one-two storey building.

I couldn’t find a more recent geotechnical survey or report for a four-storey, heavy building such as the proposed hotel, however, the preliminary report states that investigation depths beyond four metres would be appropriate for such a construction. This old report says that “settlement issues of soil at greater depths might arise” and soil density would have to be checked due to concerns of soil saturation and earthquake-induced liquefaction.

There is a whole section in the report titled “Design Issues.” Conclusion on the report states that for higher buildings investigations to greater depth and evaluation of earthquake behaviour on site soils would be appropriate. If you scroll down the report to the schematic log you will see that water levels found in the auger holes were down just one to two metres. These were drilled in November 10/05. Can you imagine how high that ground water is this time of the year?

For Just a light one-two storey building there would have to be removal of existing fill and then “rapid impact compaction” would have to be used to place new fill. I would assume that the rules for depth of this fill would need to be the same or even greater than for the three-storey Park Place building just across the river, which had to have approximately eight feet of compacted fill in order to bring it up to 200-year flood levels. If the developer has to remove existing top soil and fill and then bring in and compact it to at least eight feet of fill this would mean that all the trees would be destroyed.

What would be the present dollar value of the beautiful mature trees in our Centennial Park if assessed by a horticulturist? I am guessing in the hundreds of thousands. These trees could never be replaced.

If an up-to-date geotechnical report has been completed for this site and for the proposed hotel construction could this be made available to the public? This statement is printed on ODN from Castanet files on Jan. 25, 2017: “The Osoyoos Indian Band is also working to attract a hotel, which Hovanes says would also be a big boost to the region.” Other information indicates this new hotel would be at the Nk’Mip golf course, so it is likely the town will need to support two hotels.

Also noted in the Roy Wood article of May 5 on ODN, the hotel developer, Ron Mundi, states he would definitely consider another site in Oliver if Centennial wasn’t available and would review that after the Town’s decision. That is good news for those who would like to see both businesses prosper.

I heard this question from several dignitaries at the meeting: “Where else would we find two acres of land to sell to the developer? Are two acres actually needed for a hotel and pool? Would the town consider selling a portion of Lion’s Park to the north where there are few trees and little use?

I believe the best approach is for the town and rural residents to get behind our council and support them in finding property other than the Centennial Park, even if it means lobbying to remove property from the ALR. By all means, protest the proposed site, but let’s also work together in finding a better location for the hotel. Some have suggested the Malcolm property east of the Southwinds Crossing Centre.

It is possible, given the extremely high costs for geotechnical engineering and structural engineering that will be required on this flood plain, that if the developer could be offered a suitable alternate site he would choose to spend those costs on the building rather than on prepping the land. I am guessing he would also want the support of the residents of Oliver.

It is very important that people know that regardless whether or not a hotel is built, if either of the zoning bylaws is passed, it will mean the end of Centennial RV Park. We want to attract businesses, not close them down.                 

Gail Blidook, Oliver

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