Kaleden residents present at a town hall meeting at the community centre on November 7 prioritized the community’s trail issues as the number one community concern.
Electoral Area “D” Director Tom Siddon asked for a show of hands as he went over a list of issues facing Kaleden. Residents prioritized them as follows:
KVR trail 27
Deer and Wildlife 25
Sewer line extension 20
Highways and Roads 17
Water quality 9
Land use 9
Parks and Rec 1
There was nothing really new to report with respect to the complex situation on the community’s waterfront. Several residents expressed their frustration at attending a third meeting over the issue, only to have no resolution yet in sight. A letter written by Sickle Point owner Mel Reeves and mailed to members of the community apparently added more confusion to an already confusing issue.
“What are the issues?” asked one resident in reference to Reeves letter. “They seem to be changing all the time – what are the facts?”
The Ponderosa Point trail connection was also discussed by one resident who took umbrage with private property signs erected in the vicinity of the trail connection in order to prevent cars from parking in the area.
Boundary-Similkameen MLA John Slater explained that “some properties got left off the map” in the early years of discussions regarding transfer of trail corridor from Marathon Realty to the province.
“Time ran out, deals fell apart,” Slater said of several promises and intents made to guarantee trail accesss over non Crown land.
“This is getting silly – what is the timeline for a solution? Some people don’t believe Reeve’s letter.
There has been much talk of land swaps in exchange for access – why has there been no consultation of the community? I hope these negotiations last a long time,” said one resident to scattered applause.
Last Wednesday’s meeting was less contentious than the previous two – possibly in part because the two property owners whose land holdings are subject to most of the trail issues were both present at the meeting. There was a noticeable toning down of blame and rhetoric regarding the part Mel Reeves and Debi McGinn have played in the process so far, although one resident chided both of them, commenting that they might have had the public more willing to work with them from the outset had they not cut down trees and bulldozed the landscape so early in the process.
Both McGinn and Reeves took turns at the microphone, telling their side of the story. McGinn admitted that she understood the issues surrounding the property when she purchased it, noting that negotiations were supposed to be completed by May 1.
“It’s been difficult dealing with the province,” she said, “even to the point of finding out what ministry to deal with.” McGinn suggested that under her proposed land swap, the province would come out ahead.
Mel Reeves was interupted several times as he tried to explain his interpretation of history surrounding the disputed lakeshore road to Sickle Point and access rights to the property. Reeves claimed that the lakeshore road – in its entirety – is now Crown land, open for public use and access to Sickle Point.
“We need a public airing of this,” he said, “The community should have a say in the outcome.”
On Friday, November 9, a notice of intent to apply for a disposition of Crown Land appeared in the Penticton Western, filed on Reeves’ behalf. The notice outlined the intent of Reum Holdings to make application for a license for roadway purposes along the route discussed at Wednesday’s meeting. An email sent to Reeves on November 11 requesting clarification of the application resulted in Reeves’ responding that “in support of long term ability of the community to have unfettered access to use the (access) road, we feel it is better to enter into a new license for the (access) road that gives both the public and ourselves use of the (access) road.”
The double issue of deer and bear encroachments continue to be a source of contention in Kaleden as several residents expressed their continuing frustration of trying to keep deer out of their neighbourhood. Bear Aware Coordinator Zoe Kirk was on hand to discuss bear issues, as was RDOS Solid Waste Coordinator Cameron Baughen, who gave a precise and informative presentation on the newly revised curbside pick up bylaw. (Area “D” residents can no longer place garbage at curbside prior to 5 a.m. on the day of pickup without a bear proof container.)
A strong show of hands indicated a desire on the part of residents present to engage in a study to determine the cost of building a sewage link from Okanagan Falls to Kaleden. Director Siddon attempted to explain the financial implications of a sewage connection, noting that many residents in Kaleden had no need or desire to be connected to the Okanagan Falls plant.
“There are lots of questions regarding cost,” he said, “ and a question of fairness involved. A first step would be a study.” He said a referendum would probably be needed on the issue.
Residents also had an opportunity to critique the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure over a perceived need to re-engineer Lakehill Road. Ministry District Manager Murray Tekano was present to answer questions put forward by residents and Director Siddon.
“Why are we spending all this money repaving Highway 97 and we can’t get anything done about Lakehill Avenue?” asked several residents. (Two petitions at the entrance to Kaleden Community Hall had been set up prior to the meeting to lobby for a conceptual engineering study as well as for a complete rebuild of the street.)
Siddon also accused the highways ministry of “not having a great reputation for public consultation.”
Tekano fielded the questions comfortably, explaining that the ministry carefully chose highways projects based on “investment and value levels.” He said projects like the Eastside Road work presently underway were subject to the same approval processes as would be experienced by the general public.
He also disputed Siddon’s claim that consultation wasn’t done,
“I feel we are pretty thorough when it comes to consultation,” he said, conceding, however, that he didn’t really appreciate residents’ concerns about Lakehill Road until hearing the evening’s remarks.
Director Siddon was affronted by Tekano’s explanation regarding the ministry’s position on unauthorized signage, following comments about sign pollution at the Lakehill entrance to Kaleden.
“We’ve conducted “purges” in the past but the signs come right back.” Tekano said, “our policy now is to take it down only if there is a safety issue.”
“We recently had a discussion at the regional district about excess signage,” Siddon responded, “and we agreed to write the ministry to have signage on highway property removed. I’m offended to hear you say you aren’t going to do it.
We want you to do what we need – not what you want.”
Other meeting discussion centred around policing and Twin Lakes issues.