B.C. Parks considers expansion of lakeshore provincial park in North Okanagan | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Vernon News

B.C. Parks considers expansion of lakeshore provincial park in North Okanagan

File photo. The Chelsea Estates property also features several cabins.

B.C. Parks is weighing up the potential of turning two large pieces of land near Vernon into provincial parks.

One of the two sites, the Chelsea Estates which sits adjacent to Ellison Provincial Park was put on the market in June and quickly garnered the attention of residents, politicians, and businesses, who began lobbying the province to turn the 234-acre property into a provincial park. At the time, the province said it was “reviewing” the property.

However, Vernon Mayor Victor Cumming told council's Dec. 14 meeting he'd recently had an "interesting" call with B.C. Parks.

"B.C. Parks is interested in looking at the Chelsea Estates," the mayor said.

Cumming didn't elaborate any more, but said he had a meeting scheduled with B.C. Parks in the new year.

B.C. Parks wouldn't say if they were seriously considering the purchase.

"B.C. Parks will be reviewing both the Chelsea and O’Keefe lands as it would at any lands that come up to us," the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy told iNFOnews.ca in an emailed statement. "They are considered against the objectives of the parks system and relative to cost and other priorities."

This is the first time the province has said publicly it will also look at the O'Keefe Range's potential to become a park.

The two sites, the Chelsea Estates which sits adjacent to Ellison Provincial Park on Okanagan Lake, and the 2,300-acre O'Keefe Range, which sits on a plateau above the city, both came on the market early this year looking for buyers with tens of millions of dollars to spend.

READ MORE: How to inherit a $28M property: The story behind the O'Keefe Range

The Chelsea Estates was put on the market in June with no sale price but a municipal evaluation of $16.5-million, while the O’Keefe Range was listed at $28.5-million.

In its email, the Ministry of Environment said B.C. Parks receives numerous proposals every year regarding land purchases for addition to the provincial parks and protected areas system.

“Staff maintain a list of acquisition priorities for private property that are identified based on ecological and recreational criteria,” the Ministry said.

While how serious the province is remains to be seen, the process of turning private land into a provincial park, or vice versa, is a complex and lengthy and drawn up in legislation.

However it does happen. Between 2000 and June 2020, the province created 390 new protected areas, totally approximately 4,366,509 hectares.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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