Around 100 people showed up for the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen’s electronic town hall on Kaleden’s Sickle Point on Jan. 13.
Not all of their questions about the $2.5 million purchase of the undeveloped lakeshore property were answered, as technical issues led to town hall coming to an early end.
The questions that were asked covered a range of concerns for the RDOS on details about the alternative approval process, the future of the property and the borrowing bylaw itself, which one resident characterized as a ‘forced tax’ upon residents.
“First of all, it’s not a forced tax. It’s up to citizens in the area of the Kaleden Parks and Recreation Service if they want the Regional District to purchase that property, then they would be taxed,” said Bill Newell, the regional district’s chief administrative officer.
Some residents, in Twin Lakes and St. Andrews, had questions about why they were being asked to participate in the borrowing byalw. Every time the RDOS borrows money, they are required to have a service area they attach the borrowing to.
“This service, borrowing money to purchase parkland, was appropriate to come through the Kaleden Parks and Rec Service area, that’s why it proceeded through that area,” said Christy Malden.
The change in taxation also wouldn’t occur until 2022, after the deal to purchase the property has gone through and negotiations on the amount needed to be borrowed and the rate of repayment is completed.
At the time the RDOS made their information document laying out the potential yearly tax rate changes, the interest rate was 2.24 per cent, but since then the rate has decreased, noted RDOS financial manager Jim Zaffino.
The RDOS launched their efforts to consider purchasing the process after the Kaleden Community Association and the Kaleden Parks and Recreation Commission asked for assistance. Newell also noted that the RDOS had seen a broad expression of interest in preserving the land.
Sickle Point’s legal access route was negotiated between the provincial government and the owner of the property, which was decided to be through the KVR Trail. That access is not likely to be removed.
The RDOS also offered clarification on how the opposition to the bylaw is required to be registered.
The forms for providing notice of opposition are available online at RDOS.bc.ca or by emailing, faxing or mailing the RDOS, and the originals must be signed and either mailed or dropped off at the RDOS office.
Residents also expressed concerns about the future of the property, on whether it would be developed into a park or preserved in its entirety. Newell responded by saying that any such discussions would be had in the future, if the purchase does in fact go through.
Due to technical issues that dropped the RDOS’ feed during the town hall, there will be a second electronic town hall at a yet-to-be-determined date.
Information about the alternative approval process and the borrowing bylaw can be found at rdosregionalconnections.ca/aap.
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