Concerns raised over plans to sell Summerland-owned strip of shoreline property | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Concerns raised over plans to sell Summerland-owned strip of shoreline property

Summerland council gave three readings to a bylaw to sell a strip of Lake Okanagan shoreline to adjacent property owners in Trout Creek at this week's council meeting on May 10.
Image Credit: Google street view
May 13, 2021 - 8:30 AM

Controversy is brewing over a proposal for Summerland to sell a narrow strip of Okanagan lake frontage to five private property owners in Trout Creek.

Five residential lots were created along the lake on Landry Crescent in 2005 with a provision for a walkway between the private property lines and the high water mark of Okanagan Lake.

However, when the District of Summerland began constructing the trail, a decision was made to move it further away from the waterfront to avoid erosion. The municipality placed a statutory right of way along the five properties further away from the shoreline where the trail was constructed.

In 2017, changes to Crown Land policy meant the five property owners along Landry Crescent had to own the property where their docks are already built. The rule change meant those residents without a dock could not build one because the shoreline property belonged to the municipality.

Last fall, four of the five property owners approached the district with a request to purchase the thin strip of land in front of their properties from the District of Summerland for a total cost of $104,000.

At last Tuesday’s council meeting, Summerland council supported the idea of selling the property, arguing the statutory right-of-way across the lots would be sufficient to provide public access to pass through the area on the local Gartrell Trail.

However, John Gordon of Summerland says he and others in the community are of the opinion the riparian strip of lakeshore should remain in the municipality’s hands. He says the way the situation is now, anyone walking the statutory right of way has free access to Okanagan Lake, where the shoreline is sandy, with shallow entry.

"Despite the recent media about Sickle Point, Naramata Centre Park and more efforts made by citizens to save waterfront from development, Summerland seems to think it reasonable to remove a lovely amenity from access by 10,000 citizens and sell it to five. And if the sale proceeds, although the right-of-way across the properties will remain, there will be no lake access. There will be no trespassing signs. There will be fences,” he said in an email.

Gordon says he also takes issue with the lack of public knowledge over the issue until very recently. He says because the matter falls under the real estate category, most meetings discussing the sale of the land was done during closed in-camera sessions and the proposal has only recently came to the public’s attention.

A road closure notice has also caused some controversy, as some residents took it to mean the statutory right of way would be closed, but the district says the notice is a technical legal issue that must be done prior to Summerland selling the strip of shoreline.

Summerland Director of Development Services Brad Dollevoet says council voted 5-2 at Tuesday’s evening council meeting to proceed with three readings of the proposed bylaw. The district will be advertising the notice of disposition of land and the road closure bylaw, with council expected to adopt the bylaw at the next regular meeting on May 25.

Dollevoet says the matter has resulted in a lot of correspondence from the public.

“I think a lot of it has been some confusion as to the bylaw and road closure and also the subsequent sale. The existing trail is protected by a statutory right of way so the trail will not be closed, and won’t be subject to this road closure,” he said.

The strip of lakeshore land subject to sale amounts to 225 square metres across all five properties, Dollevoet said.

Property owners along Landry Crescent in Trout Creek wish to purchase a narrow strip of land between a statutory right of way and the Lake Okanagan shoreline, presently owned by the District of Summerland.
Property owners along Landry Crescent in Trout Creek wish to purchase a narrow strip of land between a statutory right of way and the Lake Okanagan shoreline, presently owned by the District of Summerland.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / District of Summerland

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