Nothing equitable in land swap

I have been looking at the information and the map regarding the Highway 97 interchange at Westside Road and Nancee Way and the proposed land swap in West Kelowna.

Open letter to Premier Christy Clark, Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom and MLA Ben Stewart, Westside-Kelowna:

I have been looking at the information and the map regarding the Highway 97 interchange at Westside Road and Nancee Way and the proposed land swap in West Kelowna.

I will stand corrected if I am wrong with specifics, but in general I think I understand the situation as much as the average resident in this area.

Let’s pretend…

Instead of the label “the land proposed from the WFN,” let’s put in a reference to me (I, me, my).

Instead of the label “the land proposed to the WFN”/the Crown lands, let’s put in you, (your, representing yourself, your family, your friends and the rest of the residents of the province).

Now let’s go back five years.

I have eight acres of land next to the highway that I want to develop with some businesses. I also have many acres of other land nearby on the lakeshore where I want to put a huge housing development. Both of my new projects will create more traffic in the area.

I think it would be easier for the traffic coming to my land if there was an interchange instead of the existing traffic light. I don’t want to spend the money to build the interchange.

I do decide, though, to spend some money, and I have extensive plans drawn up and present them to the province so they will build the interchange.

I go out and search around your land and tell you which acres I want you to give to me when you build the interchange on my land, and I will give you the interchange.

I will give you my eight acres next to a noisy highway for your 698 acres in a nearby undeveloped area.

The 698 acres are in two parcels. One parcel has 583 acres which includes part of the Rose Valley Reservoir (the drinking water for some of the residents of West Kelowna) and it also has part of the Rose Valley Regional Park in it. The other parcel has 115 acres in it.

You and the general traveling public are quite comfortable with what you already have, but I convince you that the interchange will benefit you, and that I should receive all the other land in exchange.

I convince you that the eight acres for the interchange that I already own (that I want to help me with the businesses that I will own and all the other houses that I will collect property taxes from), is as valuable to you as the 698 acres of land that you already own.

I convince you that it is still a good deal for you to swap the land you now control (the land with the water for the residents of West Kelowna, the park land and the other land) and you get no replacement for that water, park land or the other land.

Not only that, but I also get the contract (without it going to tender) to build the interchange. I go ahead and start building the interchange and some of the houses in the new development.

It is now 2011.

You ask West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater and the Regional District of the Central Okanagan to sign off on the deal you and I have worked out.

West Kelowna and The Regional District of the Central Okanagan do not think this is a good idea for them or their citizens and they provide a news release to inform the general public about this deal that you and I have been working on for all this time.

I doubt that Chief Robert Louie would tell the story in the same simple way I just did, but it appears to me that it is basically what has happened. I get the impression that Chief Robert Louie would think it is just fine when “WFN” is inserted in all the same places instead of references to “me”.

I don’t think the province would give away 698 acres of land with water rights and park land to any other owner who offered to “trade” their propert, so why would they do it for the WFN?

Eight acres for eight acres is one thing, but 698 acres for eight acres is not sustainable.

I’m not saying the interchange is a bad idea. If we really needed the interchange, and if it was any other owner the province would pay the owner fair market value, and the owner could go out on the open market and buy some other property to replace that land.

However, I don’t think the owner would be allowed to buy part of the Rose Valley Reservoir or part of the Rose Valley Regional Park.

It’s also not like the interchange is for my exclusive use. Everyone, including the WFN, can use it any time they choose.

We get eight acres for everyone’s use including the WFN.

They get 698 acres for WFN use only.

As proposed, WFN would have exclusive use of this land, unless of course they decide to develop it, and then they allow other people to come on their land, patronize their businesses and lease their land to build houses. Then those people would pay property taxes to WFN.

Didn’t anyone notice the disparity in the number of acres?

Didn’t anyone notice there was a reservoir and a park included in those parcels?

I realize Chief Robert Louie says they negotiated in good faith. But now he is trying to throw blame onto others and make us feel guilty for the hold-up in the signatures. There was no advantage to anyone, except them, to start the project before the deal was finished.

They could have waited. We could have waited.

I am thankful for the wisdom and the courageous stand by Mayor Findlater and The Regional District of the Central Okanagan.

This sounds like a terrible deal for the taxpayers of British Columbia.

Please stop this before it goes any further.

Donna Thomson,

Kelowna

 

Kelowna Capital News