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Manhattan Point homeowners vow to fight Kelowna in court over future parks designation

Curtis and Sheri-Lee Krouzel say they will turn their Manhattan Point home into a trust if they have to in order to prevent the City of Kelowna from ever buying it.
Curtis and Sheri-Lee Krouzel say they will turn their Manhattan Point home into a trust if they have to in order to prevent the City of Kelowna from ever buying it.
Image Credit: Submitted/Curtis and Sheri-Lee Krouzel

Property owners on what amounts to a private beach on Okanagan Lake say it’s illegal for the city to designate their properties for future parks and they will take all legal steps possible to stop them.

The city wants to designate 10 of 21 properties between Rotary Marsh and Manhattan Point as future parkland, to be bought only when they go on sale.

“Any forced zoning designation by the city will result in us putting this legacy property into a trust which will not allow it to ever be sold to the city,” Curtis and Sheri-Lee Krouzel wrote in an Aug. 7, 2023 email to the mayor and council that was copied to fellow residents and the media yesterday, March 25.

“Be very clear that the city’s actions are causing mental health stress on this community, which is not to be taken lightly as you are trying to upset what Manhattan Point residents have worked for our entire lives to create and afford,” they wrote in a follow-up email also sent yesterday.

“With the stroke of a pen you want to devalue and ruin the place we have worked and struggled our whole lives to call home.”

READ MORE: Kelowna looking to acquire 10 properties for waterfront parks

They do say, however, that their home was built two years ago on a parcel next to city-owned land at the tip of Manhattan Point and is now worth $10 million.

They complain that the city owns the land on the point but have done nothing to develop it for public use so it is now an eyesore.

“Your park plan is taking properties of prominent business people, young families, veterans and children of veterans, former service people, current government service people and many more community builders and illegally wiping them off the city map,” they write.

They claim the city’s past practice is to buy land when it becomes available rather than designate, and therefore devalue, the land for parks first. They argue the city should continue that practice on Manhattan Point.

“This is quite a disgusting coercive tactic, to try to get individual people and families disheartened over time and change things to make them think that they may not want to live in the area because of all of the safety, noise, homelessness, traffic and privacy concerns that parks can bring in Kelowna,” the Krouzels wrote.

Fellow Manhattan Point resident Tim Miller, in speaking to, called the city’s actions “diabolical” and suggested the city buy all 21 properties instead.

READ MORE: Kelowna’s approach to buying waterfront parkland called 'diabolical'

Joe and Cathy Higgins also copied their email to mayor and council to the media.

It contains a number of recommendations, including the city just letting all property owners along that beach know they may be interested in buying their properties if they ever want to sell, rather than rezoning them.

The city would not actually rezone properties. Staff told council that they only want 10 properties for parks in order for it to be more financially viable to open the beach to public access and that the designation as future parkland needs to be made if they ever want to turn it into parks.

In the meantime, staff have said owners can live on the land, sell it to another buyer or redevelop.

The city wants to eventually have a waterfront pathway all the way from Knox Mountain, through the redeveloping Tolko Mill site to the Bennett Bridge.

“A small measure of sensitivity towards Manhattan Point homeowners and residents could be achieved by linking the beach access at the west end of the Tolko site to the existing city beach promenade via Guy Street and the sidewalk along the Rotary Marsh bird sanctuary on Sunset Drive,” the Higgins wrote.

The city wants to designate Krouzel’s property as future parkland as well as others at the south end of the beach, which would serve as an end point for the Okanagan Rail Trail.

Those properties in the middle that would not be designated for future parkland would have to give up a 20-metre riparian strip and walkway space if they are rezoned or redeveloped.

“This plan will not move ahead without our property, and we will do everything in our rights to keep our property as is with no changes to the designation and current use, including defending the waterfront and dock access which we have full ownership of (and pay taxes on)," the Krouzel wrote. “We will not allow any boardwalk or infringement of any kind on our property by the city.”

While the beach is currently inaccessible to the public, any part of it below the high water mark is open to public access, although Miller pointed out that some of the properties actually extend into the lake because the beach is eroding.

At the root of much of the opposition from the property owners is their belief that property values will drop, despite city staff telling council that won’t happen.

“A potential lakefront home is not worth as much with a footpath crossing through the beach and backyard (proposed or otherwise),” Mike Bernhardt wrote in an email to the mayor and council and copied to the media. “Neither is it worth as much if it is (or will eventually be) surrounded on each side by newly purchased parks.

“As this plan progresses and the neighbourhood becomes more of a public place and less of an idyllic residential neighbourhood there can be no argument that the value of each remaining property will be damaged.”

He and his wife Kate bought their property in 2016 and he built their house on it.

He also objects to the city relying on broader public input in determining the future of the waterfront lands.

“It is irresponsible and unjust for the city to solicit public feedback and input where it concerns the future of homes and lands owned by private citizens,” Bernhardt wrote. “This is a corrupt practice with a predetermined outcome. Would the public like a ‘continuous waterfront park’ or ‘continuous waterfront access?’ Of course the answer is yes!

“If history has taught us anything it is that the court of public opinion is a dangerous thing when it is used to vie a minority group against the masses.”

He argues that it is the property owners not the general public who should make the decision on the fate of the neighbourhood.

The final decision will be made by council later this year when the full North End Plan is brought back to them in conjunction with the redevelopment of the former Tolko Mill site, just north of Manhattan Point.

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