A piece of paradise

VIPs and community partners tour Sickle Point in September.

Taxpayers are now set to have their say on the proposed purchases of new waterfront parks in Naramata and Kaleden.

But although the board of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen on Thursday initiated the process to borrow up to $3.5 million to buy Sickle Point in Kaleden, there is already an accepted offer on the property, which is the subject of a court-ordered sale.

Conditions for the other party’s purchase of the 4.8-acre site on Skaha Lake must be removed by Nov. 26, after which the deal would be presented to a judge for approval.

If that deal falls through, the RDOS could then make an offer, but it would be conditional upon receiving public assent to borrow the necessary money through an alternate approval process that is slated to run until Feb. 8.

The site, which has long been the focus of controversial plans for residential development, is listed at $2.95 million, but appraised at $2.48 million, according to Bill Newell, RDOS chief administrative officer.

Subrina Monteith, the RDOS director for Area I (Skaha West/Kaleden/Apex), said there is strong support among her constituents for the purchase, which would maintain the property in a natural state.

“The community does not support development on that land. They know this is our last chance to purchase the land. If someone buys it, develops it, it’s gone,” said Monteith.

Members of the Kaleden Community Association have been leading the drive to have the RDOS purchase the site, and have been raising money to help reduce the cost to taxpayers.

A community group in Naramata did the same thing to encourage the RDOS to purchase the Centre Beach property on Okanagan Lake. That effort has raised $1 million towards the $1.7-million purchase of the half-acre property, which has long served as a public beach, but is owned by the Naramata Centre.

The two parties are also talking about potential future land deals, according to Karla Kozakevich, RDOS director for Area E (Naramata).

“One is a donation of land to the RDOS to build a future community hall on,” she said.

Terms of the RDOS’s purchase have already been negotiated and the local government now needs public assent to borrow the money.

Under the alternate approval process, if 10% of eligible voters – 173 people – in Naramata submit a form stating their opposition to taking on new debt, a full referendum will be required to go through with it.

Similarly, the Sickle Point purchase would also go through the AAP process with a threshold of 182 eligible voters.

The deadline for processes in both Kaleden and Naramata has been set for Feb. 8. More details will be released at a later date.