Two Westside governing bodies had two very different reactions to the B.C.
Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations’ (FLNRO) decision to
sever a majority of the land at Rose Valley from a controversial land swap
On Tuesday, the government announced that more than 85 per cent of the 698
acres of land proposed to be transferred to Westbank First Nation are not be in
the public interest to be traded; therefore, they will remain Crown land.
Parcels of Crown land that were deemed unsuitable for transfer include lands
around the Rose Valley watershed, lands in the Central Okanagan Regional
District regional park area and lands in the area of gravel reserves.
“As with all potential transfers, my ministry does a comprehensive review that
considers the social, environmental and economic impacts,” said Steve Thomson,
minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
“My decision that these parcels are not suitable was based on staff’s professional
The lands in question were proposed in exchange for the commercial reserve
lands required to construct the $41 million Westside Road Interchange along
“We’re pleased with where the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource
Operations has gone with this,” said Mayor Doug Findlater.
The West Kelowna mayor said that the district is still curious about one parcel
of land that wasn’t officially taken off the table.
“We do know that there is still one piece in Rose Valley, that is basically northeast
of the park parcel, (which) is still being discussed.
“We’ll be digging in and finding out more about that. What we’ve been told is
anything that is watershed, anything that is park, anything that (is) gravel
are areas that were excluded. We’re wondering about that particular parcel that
they have included and what the significance of that is.”
Findlater said that the next step is to gain conservation status for the Rose
Valley lands to ensure that they are never subject to transfer in the future.
“We’re looking for some kind of conservation status for that whole area that’s
being discussed. Let’s make that an area that’s off limits for any kind of
transfers, any kind of private development in the future.
“I think the public would be very pleased with that kind of ending to this
Findlater also noted that the “long awaited Freedom of Information request”
that the district made to the province more than six months ago arrived on
“It’s about 414 pages of documents, some which stretch back to the 1950s and
some more current . . . we haven’t had time to do a detailed analysis of it,”
“It’s already on the district website . . . it’s available for the public to
take a look at.”
Findlater said that the district’s persistence was a key to getting these lands
taken off the negotiating table.
But Westbank First Nation saw the government’s announcement in a different
“We have honoured our end of the agreement. The province has a contractual,
trust and moral obligation to honour and satisfy the land exchange terms of our
government to government agreement,” said WFN Chief Robert Louie.
“Our legal options are now being explored.”
WFN is requesting that the province put forward the parameters and criteria
used to determine the suitability of lands for transfer.
“We are concerned about the process used to make this decision, and
particularly, the lack of opportunity to adequately explore the options
provided by the Ministry of Transportation in their submission to FLNRO prior
to this decision being made,” said Louie.
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and Westbank First Nation
have already begun exploring other land options for exchange.
Once new lands are identified, all three parties—including the District of West
Kelowna—will work together to ensure broad public interests are identified and
addressed early in negotiations.