This story was first published on Sept. 10, 2009 by then Capital News reporter Jason Luciw
Exactly what’s going on up at Kelowna Mountain , remains a mystery and a source of frustration for the Central Okanagan Regional District, which continues to express concern about ongoing development on the site.
However, land owner Mark Consiglio says he’s not breaking any rules on the 252-hectare property just outside the City of Kelowna’s boundaries, near Kettle Valley.
“Any work we’ve done on the property we’ve not required permits for. We’re not in an Official Community Plan area or a development permit area,” stated Consiglio. “It’s our own private property and we’re allowed to do earth moving and landscaping.” All development is for personal use, he added.
Regional district director Kelly Hayes, who represents the Central Okanagan East electoral area, says he’s seen the latest aerial photos of the property and finds Consiglio’s development activities “extremely alarming,” particularly the creation of a man-made lake.
“I can tell you that lake didn’t exist months ago and now it does. There’s a lot of earth being moved in that area and I’m extremely upset and I’m very alarmed at what I’m seeing,” Hayes said.
Consiglio said the so-called lake has been on the site for years.
“It’s a pond man––a skating pond. It’s (made) from a well on our property.”
An aerial photo also indicates that a dam, a 152-metre suspension bridge, ski towers and a half-pipe, a viewing platform, roads and trails are among the infrastructure that has gone in.
“We can’t charge money for anyone to come up here. And of course the benefits right now, from a potential commercial point of view, is we’re first able to examine the viability of it,” Consiglio said.
To date, the regional district has not received one rezoning request or development permit application for Kelowna Mountain, nor has staff been allowed on site, according to planner Ron Fralick.
“This isn’t the right way to do development,” Fralick told the regional board at a meeting Thursday afternoon.
However, Consiglio said if he chooses to proceed with commercial development, he’ll involve the regional district then.
“I understand there’s a great deal of curiosity about Kelowna Mountain. At a time when we’re ready to submit applications, then of course regional district staff will be invited to come and see the property.”
Hayes acknowledged that Consiglio’s actions prove the regional district needs to create an Official Community Plan for the area.
“It needs it pretty quick, to be honest with you. The regional district’s not going to take this sitting down and just let it happen.”
The regional district said it has failed at multiple attempts to contact Consiglio directly and it has asked the provincial ministry of environment to investigate activities there. However, Consiglio said the regional district is “getting a little bit out of control.”
“They’re getting a little over zealous in their lack of other things to do these days. It doesn’t really seem necessary to send in the environment ministry and be flying over top.”
Environmental studies are being done for the site, added Consiglio.
And if and when amenities are ready to be open to the public, Kelowna Mountain will be sure to let people know, he concluded.
© Copyright 2007 Kelowna Capital News