A regional request in the South Okanagan to borrow money to buy a section of waterfront property for wetland use has been crushingly rejected by the public.
On Tuesday, the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS) announced the results of its Kaleden parkland acquisition loan.
The regional district used the alternative approval process (AAP) in seeking public consent to borrow money to buy the 4.8-acre parcel of land along Skaha Lake, known as Sickle Point.
In January, a $2.5-million deal was reached between the landowner, the RDOS and a committee dedicated to turning Sickle Point into potential wetlands.
The property is being sold out of foreclosure, and conservationists want to protect the critical habitat for species-at-risk.
The real estate deal is subject to approval from Kaleden, Twin Lakes, and St. Andrews taxpayers to borrow the money to acquire the property.
It’s believed the tax increase would be around $124 annually for the next 25 years for an average homeowner, if no donations are received.
Upon announcing the deal, the RDOS said that it was using the AAP to borrow money to buy the land.
The alternative approval process puts the onus on those against a motion; that is, those opposed have to publicly voice their opinion, whereas those in favour don’t have to do anything.
If fewer than 10 per cent fail to register against the motion, it passes. If more than 10 per cent vote against it, the motion then generally goes to a public referendum.
“People register an objection to the process and when we hit a threshold of 10 per cent, then that would send it either to a referendum or possibly postpone the project,” Subrina Monteith, the Kaleden area director with the RDOS, said on Jan. 13.
In the Sickle Point AAP, the minimum 10 per cent threshold was 182 electors. The RDOS said it received 805 response forms against this AAP – four times the minimum amount needed.
On its website, the RDOS said “results of the Sickle Point AAP and potential next steps will be discussed at the February 18, 2021, board meeting.”
— With files from Shelby Thom