Regional District of North Okanagan electoral area directors voted Thursday to allow the proposed Okanagan Gondola to move forward in the regulatory process.
By moving the plan forward, the politicians overruled the recommendations of regional district planning staff.
For Ridge North America, the company proposing the development, it was a positive first step.
“We are excited about the motion made here today it just allows us to continue the conversation,” said Rav Soomal, the vice-president of operations for Ridge North America.
Ridge North America is proposing a major tourist attraction south of Vernon, B.C. above Highway 97 that includes the Okanagan Gondola as well as zip lines, restaurants, and event spaces.
But to move ahead with commercial development on the proposed site the development will need zoning and official community plan changes.
Regional district staff were recommending politicians not provide even initial support for the changes at their meeting on Thursday, which would have had the effect of killing the proposal.
Planning staff said the gondola proposal doesn’t fit with the existing community plan which envisions the area keeping its rural character and discourages commercial development in the southern gateway to Vernon.
However, the developer argues things have changed since that community plan was written.
“It is very obvious to us that there is a lot of support for this project and it fits with where the world is today, the community, and how much growth there has been in the region, “Soomal said.
Ultimately, the politicians overruled planning staff and agreed to give initial support for the gondola proposal to move forward in the rezoning process.
However, the electoral area directors placed several conditions on their approval, including asking the developers to hold a public information meeting on the proposal.
The proposed gondola still has lots of regulatory hoops to jump through but after Thursday’s vote, it is one step closer to construction.