Two weeks after setting the stage for a public hearing on a proposed marina along the Summerland waterfront, elected officials on Tuesday revisited their decision in order to put more onus on the developer to work with neighbours.
Trademark Industries in May unveiled plans for a new 50-slip marina on Okanagan Lake adjacent to Oasis Luxury Residences, construction of which is in the preliminary stages at 13415 Lakeshore Dr.
The site is already zoned for a marina by the District of Summerland, effectively putting the B.C. government in charge of public consultation via the project’s application for tenure over that portion of Okanagan Lake.
But, noting concern in the community, council on Sept. 27 passed a motion to begin the process of adding site-specific restrictions to the existing zoning in consideration of the proposed marina and in the process trigger a public hearing that will serve as a larger sounding board for the project.
In hindsight, though, that decision was flawed, according to Coun. Doug Holmes, because it “pre-supposes there will be a marina there of some sort and we don’t know if the public actually wants a marina.”
To rectify that, Holmes persuaded colleagues at their meeting Tuesday to toss out the earlier decision and vote 6-1 in favour of a different option that would see a more restrictive zoning designation placed over the proposed marina site that explicitly bans permanent structures like docks.
Holmes said that will put the onus on the developer, instead of district staff, to figure out how it can get public support for the marina.
“I’m all in favour of collaboration, but really it’s up to the project proponent to speak to the neighbours and work things out, and I think it’s presumptuous to assume they aren’t already doing this or aren’t capable of doing this. I just don’t see that as our role,” said Holmes.
“And, when I think back on 2019 and our decision to rezone the Oasis property, there was members of both the public and council at the time asking if wharfs or dock facilities of any kind were part of the project, and each time we were told it was not. And so, it was a concern to people then, so now all of a sudden why are we facilitating something that two years ago was a concern to people?”
The lone vote in opposition to the change was cast by Mayor Toni Boot, who said she was “very uncomfortable” with the idea of a marina of any type on that part of Okanagan Lake.
It now seems the B.C. government might be uncomfortable with the idea, too.
Included in council’s agenda package was an email chain from early September between district planner JoAnn Peachy and Keith Weir, a senior land officer for the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operation.
Weird told Peachy on Sept. 8 that he’d been contacted by someone from the Oasis Waterfront Development about the proposed marina and he then explained some of the obstacles facing the project.
“I advised that the siting is very difficult because of existing structures, other marina tenures and the riparian rights of adjoining properties, but if they still wish to apply for a marina, they can,” wrote Weir.
As of Wednesday, the B.C. government hadn’t yet received an application for tenure required for the marina. The approval process for that application – if and when it’s filed – is expected to take at least two years.
Also on Wednesday, a website dedicated to the marina project had been taken offline.