A counteroffer has been made by the district of West Kelowna on the Whitworth land exchange proposal that remains unsettled after more than a year.
West Kelowna council on Feb. 8 passed a motion to offer an exchange of the Whitworth Road and 4129 Gellatly Rd. properties, with an added cash contribution of $300,000 and a 12-foot-wide right of way down to the lake.
Coun. Rosalind Neis said that after going through all the letters the district has received, she found 55 against and 64 in favour of the proposal.
“The community is split on this.”
She noted the common themes cited against the proposal included the potential restriction of fire access to the lake because of the lack of hydrants in the area, the fact that the decision could set a precedent for future decisions involving other beach access properties in the district, and requests that a decision on the exchange be deferred.
West Kelowna fire chief Wayne Schnitzler said the way the department responds to fires in the district, it does not matter whether the blaze is near the lakefront or not.
He noted the fire department typically responds with an engine and a water tender if necessary.
Director of administration Marnie Manders noted that the exchange is being considered as a one-off offer.
She pointed out there will be many offers that come in front of council, and whether the Whitworth exchange is precedent-setting is arguable.
“You’re only doing one, based on the merits of that exact offer,” she told council.
Mayor Doug Findlater said West Kelowna has not explored the full potential of the 29 beach accesses delivered through incorporation.
He noted the beach accesses developed in Kelowna vary greatly, and offer the public a diverse variety of experiences.
He added that access to the waterfront is important for people who can’t afford waterfront property, and the land could turn out to be a strategic piece of property for the district over the long term.
“I think this is, at the very least, premature.”
Coun. Duane Ophus, Coun. Bryden Winsby and Findlater opposed the motion.