Top stories of 2020: Groundswell of interest to save Chelsea Estate as a public park

No. 4: Chelsea Estate

Castanet is counting down its top 10 news stories of the year.

We'll count down 2020's biggest Vernon stories starting Dec. 22, winding up with the top story of the year on Dec. 31, and our newsmaker of the year on New Year's Day.

Today's story, No. 4: The Chelsea Estate.

Ever since the expansive waterfront Chelsea Estate was listed for sale in June, it caught the eyes of several potential buyers, including the City of Vernon.

The 234-acre property is one of the last large waterfront parcels in the Okanagan.

It's made up of 11 individual parcels of land between Predator Ridge Golf Resort and Ellison Provincial Park.

When the land was listed, several local organizations, including the city, expressed support for turning it into a publicly accessed park.

Vernon sent a letter to BC Parks and the Regional District of North Okanagan, asking the provincial government to purchase the land for inclusion into neighbouring Ellison Park.

"I think this land would be the perfect place for a park," said Coun. Scott Anderson. "It seems like the public would be on board with it as well."

Even with support from local organizations, the provincial government declined the request, citing a lack of funds for the reason why they can't buy the property. The $16.5 million estate remains for sale, and talks of purchasing the land tapered off since the province declined.

However, renewed interest was piqued just this month, when Vernon Mayor Victor Cumming hinted that BC Parks may be interested, after all.

"I had an interesting call on Dec. 4 from BC Parks," Cumming said during the Dec. 14 council meeting.

Cumming said there will be further discussions about the property in the new year, and there will be a Zoom meeting with interested parties in January.

Meanwhile, no other potential buyers have come forward.


"We don't have a deal on it and there are no ongoing discussions about it, but we've certainly had lots of interest," says Mark Lester, senior vice-president of Colliers International.

The reason the land hasn't sold yet is because the majority of parties who are interested in buying the land are looking at purchasing by the parcel, not the entire property.

"The reason it's still available is because we've had interest on individual pieces," says Lester. "But they aren't that party who would be that overall buyer that would have a vision for everything."

To view the details on the Chelsea Estate, you can find it on the Colliers International website.

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