Decaying Lake Okanagan Resort loses chance for rebirth | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Decaying Lake Okanagan Resort loses chance for rebirth

Lake Okanagan Resort will continue to decay without permission to build 14 chalets.
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KELOWNA - Efforts to kickstart the rebirth of the decaying Lake Okanagan Resort has been thwarted by local government.

“When we started working on this resort, we were in the situation where we were looking at a pretty worn out resort,” Keith Funk of New Town Architecture told the Regional District of the Central Okanagan yesterday, July 29.

“It is 40 years old. The mix of material and the product that has been offered to people is really insufficient to draw tourism to the site. As a result, over the years, the site has actually suffered greatly. There’s deteriorated maintenance, ultimately, a bankruptcy resulted through the process of decay. We now have a new owner, financial failure has been set aside and our company has been hired to turn it back into a five-star resort

“It was known as the Jewel of the Okanagan and I think we can recover that.”

The first step in that plan requires millions of dollars to rebuild the sewage system. While Funk said the septic fields are in good shape, the plant itself needs to be replaced.

His proposal was to build 14 high-end duplex chalets to pay for the new sewage system. Since the Land Use Contract governing the development of the site allows for 500 units on the site and there are currently only 217, the plan is to build 269 more units after the chalets are finished but not to fix up the existing buildings.

That irked some of the regional directors.

“What bothers me here is that it seems like we’re trying to build a five-star resort with, it seems, no money,” Mark Bartyik, the director for Ellison/Joe Rich said. “I’m trying to figure out why we wouldn’t want to fix the crux of the problem, attack that one first and set an example that everyone at this board table might look at and say ‘that guy knows what he’s doing and maybe we’ll back him up on this next development.’”

The problem is, many of the existing units are either privately owned or in timeshares so the resort owner cannot do much with them, Funk said, although he’s also been hired to redo the hotel and clubhouse.

In fact, the location chosen for the chalets, which includes part of one of the old septic fields and areas where there have been slides, was selected, in part, because it’s out of sight of the older buildings.

“It’s away from the existing worn out space,” Funk said. “You can’t put something you’re going to sell at a very high price point next to something that’s falling apart.”

Part of the board’s objection was technical. The land is covered by a land-use contract originally signed in 1978 but modified in 1997. Funk wanted to amend that contract but regional district staff want to terminate it, as required by provincial law before June 30, 2024 and put regular zoning in place.

The board did consider deferring a decision and trying to work out a compromise but, in the end, chose to kill the project until the contract can be terminated. Funk suggested that it could take a year.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 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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