Province provides land for new West Kelowna works yard

After seven years of trying to get a parcel of Crown land for a proper district works yard, West Kelowna is finally successful.

A provincial announcement Friday of a sponsored Crown grant to the District of West Kelowna of 11 acres of land at 2515 Bartley Road means West Kelowna council can check aoff  long-time top strategic priority, says West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater.

“During the Westside governance discussions (in 2006), it was raised that this municipality owns very little land for municipal purposes,” said Findlater, who chaired the governance committee from 2003 to 2007.

“When we incorporated, we were told by the province we would get support for Crown Land grants to help the new municipality establish much-needed municipal facilities. It took seven years, but I can tell you that West Kelowna Council is extremely pleased to see this dream become a reality.”

Premier Christy Clark announced the transfer of the 11.93 acre parcel to the district Friday. The land will initially be used as a work yard. But additional uses could be seen later after all the property is cleared and set up for use.

During the past seven years, West Kelowna Council never lost sight of this important goal and worked tirelessly with MLA’s, provincial ministers and staff to secure a sponsored CrownGrant, said Findlater, adding The  Bartley Road location is ideal for West Kelowna’s needs.

“We have always envisioned the Bartley Road property as a future site for our public works operations,” he said. “It is a large, industrially-zoned piece of property, centrally-located in our community in Boucherie Centre. It is also very near to our current engineering and operations building at 2570 Bartley Road.”

As part of the deal ,the Westbank First Nation was asked to agree not contest the land grant given its land claims in the area.

Clark praised WFN Chief Robert Louie and his council for agreeing to support the land grant to West Kelowna.

Lands Minister Steve Thomson, MLA for Kelowna-Mission, and whose ministry is responsible for the land grant, said no deal was made with the WFN to get its agreement.

He said Louie’s reference to “working with the province on reconciliation of its interests,” which was included in the official news release from the province, referred simply to the bigger issue of land claims and not this specific grant.