VERNON - Additional concerns are arising around a controversial plan to remove land from Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park in Vernon.
The Regional District of the North Okanagan board of directors finally heard from B.C. Parks this week about a Ministry of Transportation proposal to remove a 20 metre right-of-way, down from an originally requested 30 metres, from the park so improvements can be made to Cosens Bay Road. The plan first came to light last year, and local government has openly criticized the ministry for not consulting with it sooner.
Since learning of the proposal, director Mike Macnabb says the board has heard from the proponents like Ministry of Transportation and the opponents including Friends of Kal Park among others, but the missing piece until now has been B.C. Parks, which will review the proposal — sort of.
One of Macnabb’s concerns after listening to a presentation yesterday, July 22, is whether B.C. Parks even has the ability to look at the ministry’s proposal and determine whether or not the matter really is, as the province says, a safety issue.
“When I asked if they had the capacity to review that (ministry submitted information) in house, they said no. If it’s an issue of road safety, they would of course go to the ministry responsible for that, which is the proponent. They wouldn’t have an independent individual have a look at this. It’s a bit incestuous in that regard,” Macnabb says.
The ministry has repeatedly stated the proposal is intended to improve road safety for all users, but Macnabb has always suspected the initiative is less about safety, and more about development, and now he feels more certain than ever that’s what happening.
During the presentation, B.C. Parks also noted the described improvements could be accomplished without removing the land at all; the ministry would just need a parks use permit.
“The ministry has also said services would be considered in the future — water, sewer, power — and that requires the exclusion of the land from the park itself,” Macnabb says. “It was always suspected but never really stated that this is for future development. I think it’s very clear now.”
About 68 people who have cabins on Cosens Bay Road — mostly seasonal — and that neighbourhood’s property owners society has come out publicly in support of the road improvements.
The ministry’s draft proposal is expected to be submitted to B.C. Parks imminently, at which time it will also be made public. Macnabb says a 45 day period will follow for comments. He’s hoping to have the proposal made available to the public on the regional district’s website.
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