Land exchange debate far from over

Cabinet minister Blair Lekstrom will be getting more letters of concern over a controversial land exchange between the province and Westbank First Nation.

B.C. Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Blair Lekstrom can expect a few more letters in his mailbox in the coming weeks.

On Oct. 6, the Okanagan Basin Water Board reported that it would be sending a letter to the B.C. government, which would encourage protection of the Rose Valley Reservoir.

The board stated that they are concerned that the lands should remain in public hands to ensure ongoing protection of the reservoir’s drinking water.

On Tuesday, West Kelowna council unanimously agreed to send another letter to Lekstrom, requesting him to appear before council to discuss issues surrounding the land swap.

Couns. Gord Milsom and Rosalind Neis felt that more needed to be done than simply sending another letter.

“It’s kind of frustrating to sit and wait and hear that they’re coming at some point but we don’t know when that’s going to come,” said Milsom.

Milsom said that it would be a good idea to consider booking a bigger venue, such as Royal LePage Place, to accommodate the large number of community members who would likely be interested in attending when Lekstrom attends.

Neis suggested booking the facility immediately.

She, unsuccessfully, made a motion to direct staff to pick a date and a venue and tell the minister to attend on that date.

“Minister Lekstrom has said that he’s coming. But unless there’s a date, he’s not coming.

“I think his role as an elected official is to attend at the request of municipalities that have issues with regards to his ministry,” said Neis.

The rest of council didn’t believe that providing the province with an ultimatum was the best course of action.

“I can understand the spirit behind the suggestion. I’m afraid, though, that it would be rejected outright,” said Coun. Bryden Winsby.

“I think the government would be very unwilling to debate it in a public forum.”

The letter drafted by Findlater will attempt to, once again, establish a date that Lekstrom can meet with West Kelowna council.



Kelowna Capital News