Virtual town hall addressed concerns from RDOS residents over the purchase of Sickle Point in Kaleden

Concerns over Sickle Point

Residents of the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen’s Electoral “I” region, excluding Apex, had their first chance to speak to RDOS staff about a proposed multi-million dollar loan to purchase Sickle Point in Kaleden at a virtual town hall Wednesday night.

Staff Wednesday addressed burning questions on the future of the 4.8 acre lakefront property.

Initially listed for over $3.1 million, the RDOS was successful in its offer of purchasing the property for the appraised-value of $2.5 million from Lanyard Investments, who holds the defaulted mortgage from the previous landowner.

“That offer has been accepted,” explained chief administrative officer Bill Newell Wednesday evening, though it has conditions. “If they get a better offer, with no conditions, they can then give us notice and proceed with that other offer.”

The RDOS cannot move forward with the loan needed to purchase Sickle Point without first receiving approval from taxpayers in the community. Should the RDOS receive 10 per cent of votes in opposition of the loan, a referendum will be triggered.

The purchase price would be offset by the Save Sickle Point Committee, which to date has raised approximately $285,000 through community fundraising to preserve the land in its natural state. The committee has expressed optimism they will be able to raise the whole amount eventually, or at least enough that the hit to taxpayers would be minimal.

They have been working for some time to save Sickle Point, which is home to unique and key wetlands. In late 2020, Member of Parliament Richard Cannings attended a socially-distanced rally to show his support in preserving the ecosystem.

The property is currently zoned for single-family dwellings and has been an area of interest for several subdivision projects in the past few years, and is accessed by the KVR trail, a feature which Newell said Wednesday evening would most likely not change. An application for a five-lot subdivision is currently pending.

Unidentified residents who either dialled in to the town hall or attended virtually raised a variety of concerns about the rise of taxes in 2022, the amount of foot traffic drawn to the area should Sickle Point be preserved and turned into a park and the cost of maintaining the property each year.

RDOS communications coordinator Erick Thompson explained that Sickle Point has “been identified as having significant conservation values and being of interest to the community for public use.”

“Purchasing Sickle Point will prevent development, and preserve and protect critical habitat for species at risk, as well as a rare and endangered riparian and wetland habitat,” he explained. “Protection of this site will allow for continued use of the area for future generations. Sickle Point is also a sensitive and important Indigenous cultural and heritage site.”

Should the deal go through, the future use of the land will be determined by the RDOS, the Penticton Indian Band and the communities within the service area.

Residents within the Kaleden Parks and Recreation Service area can find their Elector Response Forms at the Regional District office or on the Regional District website: www.rdos.bc.ca.

An Elector Response Form can also be sent to you by mail, fax, or email, on request.

The deadline for delivering the original signed Elector Response Form (no fax or email) to the Regional District is 4:30 pm on Monday February 8, 2021.

For more information, contact Christy Malden, the RDOS manager of legislative services, at [email protected] or 250-490-4146.

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