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Kelowna Mountain developer threatening legal action for RDCO

Kelowna Mountain suspension bridges opened to the public this summer, advertised as North America
Kelowna Mountain suspension bridges opened to the public this summer, advertised as North America's longest suspension bridges.
— image credit: Jean Russell

The regional district has been served with a notice of legal action by the developer behind Kelowna Mountain, according regional district board chairman Robert Hobson.

The one building currently standing on the site, a marble-floored Italian-style villa, was given both a building permit and occupancy permit, however, it was built significantly larger than what was proposed and it does not fit the zoning for the area.

The zoning bylaw does not allow the building to be used for commercial purposes, but does allow a building for the agritourism venture proposed. Using the space as an agritourism venture, the mountain's only option is to use a portion for it's intended use and the rest of the fancy building for agricultural storage.

"We have reached out to the owner on numerous occasions to get approval for the things he wants to do in the area," said Hobson, noting he's yet to follow up with regional planners on any of the requests to deal with a string of issues the development faces.

The threat of lawsuit has gone nowhere thus far, according to Hobson, and in the meantime, several other issues have surfaced.

The developer is no longer in a position to sell shares in Kelowna Mountain Limited Partnership, the company formed to finance the venture. Having been handed a Cease Trade Order by the BC Securities Commission, it's only source of revenue is gone.

In addition, the regional district has not received a zoning application needed to square away the bylaw requirements to open the type of adventure tourism or agritourism operation presently being pitched. So future revenue sources have also been eliminated as well.

"The ideal situation is one that's followed by the developers in the City of Kelowna who find out what the steps (they need to take) are to get approval for what they want to do and then work with the city planners to get that done," Hobson said.

Kelowna Mountain has taken the opposite approach. As far as the regional district is aware, the developer has made no attempt to pursue the list of items he was provided to bring the development into compliance after the new Official Community Plan for the area went through in 2012, even though the development was expressly planned for to anticipate the mountain's needs in the OCP process.

"It's absolutely unique as far as I know," said Hobson. "We have not had a development that I know of where millions of dollars are spent on amenities without a development."

In order to be in compliance with the new OCP, the development would have to undergo a neighbourhood planning process similar to what Wilden, Black Mountain and Kirschner Mountain went through.

The process identifies all the servicing needs required and the means by which it will be financed.

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