Investors in the Kelowna Mountain development proposal are disappointed by the Central Okanagan Regional District board’s approval of the South Slopes Official Community Plan bylaw Thursday.
But while one investor, Michael Boccio from New York City, was commenting on several options, ranging from filing a negligence lawsuit against CORD to applying to the province for a special self-governing resort status, the key person behind the development, Kelowna Mountain property owner Michael Consiglio was nowhere to be found.
Consiglio’s lawyer was at the meeting but refused to make any comment without first informing his client of the board’s decision.
For his part, Boccio was disappointed that the board opted not to endorse their ambitious development proposal in the OCP bylaw.
Instead, the board recognized Kelowna Mountain as a Recreation Resort Study Area, meaning the Kelowna Mountain project will be reviewed on its merits as more specific information is presented as to how exactly Consiglio will adapt his project plans to the existing land base.
That means addressing such issues as neighbourhood planning, water, road access, other service requirements and the impact on the neighbouring City of Kelowna.
Boccio argued that despite not submitting a completed rezoning application to address those issues, the board should have adopted the project both on “good faith” and the positive response to surveys about their concept and the positive response voiced at the OCP public hearing last month.
“One person spoke against our proposal at the public hearing and surveys have shown more than 50 per cent positive response to the idea of developing a year-round resort on Kelowna Mountain,” Boccio said outside Thursday’s board meeting.
Boccio insinuated that could be the basis for a lawsuit, but cautioned that he didn’t speak for Consiglio, just as one of many investors in the project.
“Certainly, a legal option is one the investors will consider when we get together to talk about what we do next,” Boccio said.
In the meeting, both regional board directors Andre Blanleil and Patty Hanson voted against the OCP, saying it was not favourable to future commercial growth in the rural area, which could make it more difficult for the Kelowna Mountain project to get approval.
But the other directors voted in favour of the OCP, citing the balance between the need to have a plan in place for future development in the South Slopes area, and the study designation allowing the Kelowna Mountain project to continue with its planning process.
Board chairman Robert Hobson said as with other Upper Mission residential developments in the south end of Kelowna, there needs to be a neighbourhood plan in place and rezoning application process that address service, water and transportation access issues, as well as the impact on neighbouring Kelowna.
Hobson cited the recent approval of a commercial retail development in The Ponds, an Upper Mission residential area, which had the cooperation of several land owners and city planners to finalize a plan as a clear illustration of how the process should work.
Board director Colin Basran, a Kelowna city councillor, also voiced his objections about the public hearing, saying he would not be bullyed into making a decision despite the organized pro-Kelowna Mountain crowd.
Boccio slammed Basran’s response outside the meeting, saying Basran was clearly caught off guard by the level of public support for the project.
“He should not have felt he was being bullyed. It just showed his lack of ability to listen,” Boccio contended.