Sale of beloved Kaleden wetlands to developer looms as community, RDOS fight to find ways to save it

Sickle Point down to wire

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen is looking at borrowing up to $3.5 million to purchase and preserve a lakefront parcel of land slated for development in Kaleden, but that dream could be quashed if a pending sale goes through this week and a last-minute plea to the province goes unanswered.

Sickle Point is 4.8 acres of mostly untouched biodiverse nature, home to many species at risk and described by the grassroots group Save Sickle Point as "the heart of the community." 

"If kept in its indigenous state, this at-risk land will be a pristine sanctuary for plants, wildlife, and future generations," the group writes on its Facebook page. "The sale of Sickle Point for land development would result in a tragic and irreversible loss."

The RDOS board has started proceedings that would allow them to borrow to purchase the land, subject to Kaleden taxpayers' approval. 

But the property is already under a court-ordered sale for which conditions must be lifted by Nov. 26, then have a judge approve the sale within 21 days. 

The property has been appraised at $2.48M and the listed price is $2.95M.

Should the sale fall through, the RDOS could throw its hat in the ring, but any offer would be subject to public approval for the borrowing. The deadline for electoral response forms would not be until Feb. 8, 2021. 

The Save Sickle Point group in conjunction with the Kaleden Community Association have launched a fundraising campaign with approximately $250,000 in pledges so far. They hope to see Sickle Point become a nature park, with trails, boardwalks and interpretive signage. 

Among the supporters of the Save Sickle Point movement are new Boundary-Similkameen MLA Roly Russell and Member of Parliament Richard Cannings, who has visited the site on several occasions. 

The group has written a letter directly to Premier John Horgan pleading with him to step in as the days dwindle for the sale to be final. 

"Mr. Premier, our community and many conservation groups and individual users of the KVR Trail through Kaleden have been opposed to any form of private development near the important Sickle Point wetlands for more than 25 years," wrote the committee in a Nov. 15 letter. 

They asked him to enact an Environment and Land Use Act order to stay development until environmental concerns are addressed. 

"We would ask your government to intervene quickly to protect the irreplaceable ecological vales and the associated public recreation and nature study opportunities at Sickle Point for the benefit of this and future generations of our children. We humbly ask for your government's immediate help!" 

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