Mayor Doug Findlater and district councillors David Knowles, Duane Ophus and Carol Zanon hiked areas around the Rose Valley Reservoir on Monday that are part of the Crown land parcel in the proposed land swap between the province and Westbank First Nation.
In August, B.C. Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Blair Lekstrom said that the 698-acre undeveloped parcel, in many cases, can’t be developed.
But the West Kelowna council contingent set out to prove the opposite was true.
“The province has contended that the Crown land is almost undevelopable because of the steep and rocky terrain,” said Mayor Doug Findlater.
“Our contention is quite the opposite. In terms of the terrain, even the steeper slopes (are) quite developable. We’re very concerned about that kind of development adjacent to a watershed.”
Findlater made it clear that he didn’t want to see the area become developed.
“I would go so far at this point, as we ponder this whole thing, (to say) this should be part of Rose Valley Regional Park, as are the parcels to the south.”
Findlater compared the area to Dilworth Mountain in Kelowna.
“In terms of the terrain, you’ve got something that resembles Dilworth Mountain. With a bit of dynamite, you can do a lot of road building and lot clearing. The higher elevations there would have a 360-degree view of not only Rose Valley Lake right there, but Okanagan Lake and Kelowna.”
Findlater still fears what is unknown to the district.
“They won’t tell us what’s really involved in this. At various times we’ve heard some members of WFN council mention 1,000 acres. This is less than 700. We’d really like to know because we’re in such close proximity; we’d like to know what the impact is.”
According to Findlater, the problem isn’t a short-term one.
“If this deal goes through, I don’t think it’s the end of the world next year. But I think 10, 20, 30 or 40 years out, people will be saying, ‘What were those people thinking back in 2011 to go along with this?’ This is a long-term problem, not a short-term problem.”
The Rose Valley Reservoir serves approximately 10,000 people, one-third of the municipality.