Orchards Walk plans worry neighbours

Proposal would expand units by 25 per cent

JASON HEWLETT / Kamloops Daily News
December 2, 2013 01:00 AM

Large earth movers sit ready to go next to homes in the Orchards Walk subdivision in Valleyview.

A significant expansion of the Orchards Walk development east of Valleyview will further erode the neighbourhood's charm, residents said Sunday.

Which is why City councillors will give serious consideration to taking the proposed development to public hearing.

A report to council states developer Valleyview G.P. Inc. wants to expand Orchards Walk's total yield from 675 units to 894 - an increase of 25 per cent.

When proposed eight years ago, the original site plan called for 753 units, but was scaled back to 675 to make the project more urban friendly.

At the time, residents were most concerned about traffic. Those who spoke to The Daily News on Sunday morning now believe the biggest drawback is how the development altered the neighbourhood.

"For me, it's definitely charged it a lot," said Lisa Hodgson. "It's taken away the neighbourhood feeling, especially having so many townhouses."

Hodgson has lived on Valleyview Drive for 23 years and likes the rows of houses, each with its own yard. She said Orchards Walk should have at included more single-family homes

"Like what Valleyview already consisted of," she said.

With so many townhouses and small homes packed into a small area, the development feels "cheap," said Hodgson.

Given the significant changes, Coun. Ken Christian said it makes sense to give the public a chance to provided input.

He said the expansion would be in two phases, with one cluster of homes at Grand Boulevard and another farther east.

"The recommendation for council is it go to public hearing," he said. "Council would be quite interested in hearing what the public has to say about that particular expansion."

Christian said the demand for housing in Kamloops is changing, with the City interested in filling vacant lots with a mix of single-family homes, townhomes and apartments with amenities like grocery stores.

"So you don't have to take a 15-kilometres drive for a jug of milk," he said.

Valleyview resident Toby Jackson disagrees. He doesn't like the rows of townhouses and how they change the feel of the neighbourhood.

"There's going to be more paved roads and everything," he said, adding he misses walking his dog through the Jimeva orchards.

The alternative is Kamloops doesn't grow, which he knows isn't in the cards, said Jackson.

Coun. Pat Wallace will vote in favour of taking the matter to public hearing, and promised to keep an open mind until then.

"I think this is a substantial amendment," she said.

Even with a public hearing, Jackson believes the project will go ahead.

"You can't fight progress," he said.

Council will debate the issue during a meeting Tuesday.

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