Kelowna Mountain launches lawsuit against regional district

"The (regional district) exercised its powers with malice and intent to injure the plaintiffs..."

The third time won’t be the charm when it comes to the latest lawsuit Kelowna Mountain is levying against the Regional District of the Central Okanagan, say representatives of the local government.

Another civil suit was launched by Kelowna Mountain, owned by Mark Consiglio, earlier this month, asking that the regional district ante up losses “sustained as a result of the defendant’s misconduct.”

“In its zeal to prevent all development on Kelowna Mountain, the (regional district) exercised its powers with malice and intent to injure the plaintiffs or did so with knowledge that it lacked authority in the circumstances where it could foresee that its actions would harm the plaintiffs,” reads the notice of civil claim.

Among other things, the claim says that approximately $50 million was spent to purchase the lands and to develop them for agriculture and agri-tourism uses.

The regional district’s efforts to thwart that effort “resulted in these expenditures being wasted.”

A lengthy court document from the regional district followed Oct. 28, rejecting all claims made.

Two previous attempts by Kelowna Mountain Development Services Ltd. to challenge the planning authority of the regional district have been rejected by the courts.

The most recent failed bid was in September 2014 when the Court of Appeal dismissed the case, upholding the validity of the RDCO Zoning Bylaw No. 871.

“It’s unfortunate that yet again, Central Okanagan taxpayers will be footing the bill for a legal challenge from this developer,” said RDCO board chair Gail Given in a press release that followed days later.

“I can say that the regional district will actively defend itself against these unproven and false accusations that are without merit.

“I can also confirm the regional district has yet to receive any application from the developer for consideration by the regional district. Any further comments will be respectfully reserved for court.”

Kelowna Mountain is an area of land consisting of 640 acres located just south of Kelowna.

Kelowna Mountain proposed an 11 million sq.-ft., $100-million Wine Park, in 2013 despite a series of issues with zoning.

Of note, the one building standing on the site at that time, 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 did not allow the building to be used for commercial purposes, but does allow a building for the agri-tourism venture proposed.

Using the space as an agritourism venture, the mountain’s only option is to use a portion for its intended use and the rest of the building for agricultural storage, reads a 2013 story on the developer’s issues,” read a press release sent out Wednesday.

The release does not specify what is at issue in this latest challenge, but in the Notice of Civil Claim, Consiglio says the actions of the district caused him to waste

$50 million.