Province says it has no money to buy Chelsea Estate to add to Ellison Provincial Park

No to parkland purchase

It may not be financially possible for the province to purchase a prime piece of real estate that would increase parkland near Vernon.

The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to MLA George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, requesting the province help pay for the purchase of Chelsea Estate.

The 234-acre estate is comprised of 11 parcels between Ellison Provincial Park and Predator Ridge Golf Resort.

The chamber received a letter from Heyman indicating the ministry does not have the money for such a purchase and there are competing interests that must be considered.

The parcel of land is valued at $16.5 million.

“We fully understand limited budgets and competing priorities as our members – business owners and non-profits – experience the same challenges on a daily basis," chamber president Krystin Kempton responded. "But while there is a monetary price to acquiring the Chelsea Estate, there is a price if we do nothing, particularly as our province faces climate change and much of the Okanagan’s natural ecosystem is considered sensitive.

“There is also a significant cost if there aren’t investments in economic development. In the case of adding the Chelsea Estate to Ellison Provincial Park, it would further the North Okanagan’s reputation as a tourism destination as mountain biking and hiking are increasingly popular with visitors. The North Okanagan and the province can only benefit from the spinoff benefits of acquiring this property. We also believe that protecting this special location will bolster our province’s relationship with the Syilx people, who have called this land home for generations.”

Heyman told the chamber: “Should other significant contributors to this acquisition be identified, BC Parks remains prepared to discuss ways in which this property could be acquired for public benefit.”

Kempton said the chamber is urging Heyman “to immediately direct BC Parks staff to proactively seek out potential partners such as public and private foundations and government at all levels. In fact, partnerships between BC Parks, foundations and all levels of government have made other provincial parks possible in the North Okanagan.”

Last month, Mike Brown launched an online petition urging the province to purchase the land.

The petition has gathered almost 13,000 names so far.

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