The Kelowna Mountain development project is outside the City of Kelowna boundaries, but there are fears the city’s voting influence on the regional district board could delay the project’s progress.
Patty Hanson, the regional board director for the rural area that encompasses Kelowna Mountain, said she has her fingers crossed that the city will endorse the project.
“This would be a huge boost for my area of Central Okanagan East and (project developer Mark Consiglio) really wants it to stay within the regional district,” Hanson told the Capital News.
“There will be no water or sewer services required from the city to make this happen. There has been talk of extending Gordon Drive to Kelowna Mountain but if the city isn’t prepared to do that at this time, there is an alternative of upgrading the Girard Forest Service road for access.”
Hanson said she has fears of this development project being drawn out and “studied to death,” putting at risk the suggested economic benefits of creating 3,000 jobs during the build-out phase and another 500 tourist and retail related jobs after the development is complete.
Hanson cited two recent examples of scenarios that she doesn’t want to see happen to the Kelowna Mountain project.
One is what she called the ridiculous amount of time spent consulting on the Crystal Mountain ski hill expansion project. “We met and met and met, and had meeting after meeting after meeting on that project, and where are they at today? Exactly where it was at the start.”
Hanson said Consiglio has done his homework and addressed all the infrastructure issues, from water supply to sewer to roads.
“One of my fears is this could be drawn out and studied to death. I don’t want that to happen. Mark has done his homework. End of story.”
Hanson’s other concern is that the city may seek to have the project adopted by the city, allowing the taxation benefits to flow into Kelowna’s coffers, cutting out the regional district.
Hanson is still bitter at how the Country Roads neighbourhood in Ellison had to plug into the City of Kelowna’s sewer system, and the cost for doing that was for the subdivision to be removed from the regional district’s control.
“I lost an entire subdivision from my electoral area,” said Hanson, who was serving one of her two previous terms as a rural director at the time.
“There are similar service agreements all over the province where that didn’t happen, so there was no reason for it.”
Hanson sees Kelowna Mountain project as a huge boost for Kelowna, that the benefits derived from it should be sufficient to not attempt to further erode the CORD tax base.
“I was at the tourism conference at The Grand last week and attending the meetings, the one thing you hear over and over again from the representatives of other Okanagan communities is they want to see economic development,” Hanson said.
“And here we have a great opportunity for that right in or own backyard. So to not support it would be really bad for our region.”