Nearly three years after part of the KVR Trail through Kaleden was blocked off by its new owners, the B.C. government has offered up a section of Skaha Lake waterfront in return for a permanent detour.
“This solution seems to resolve a problem that appeared at some point (to be) almost unresolvable,” said Tom Siddon, who represents the area on the board of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen.
The swap would see a 250-metre U-shaped diversion around the KVR Trail given over to the B.C. government in exchange for a narrow, 150-metre sliver of waterfront property at the end of Alder Avenue, according to information provided to the regional district.
The RDOS board, which was asked to comment on the proposal, voted unanimously Thursday to endorse it.
“I support this resolution, notwithstanding the opinions of some people, because it will give us a permanent connection between Alder Street and the KVR Trail north of Kaleden, and that’s the overriding consideration here,” Siddon said.
The deal has been in the works for approximately three years, according to Greig Beithel, a spokesman for the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
Beithel said via email that the land exchange was initiated by the private landowner, whom he couldn’t name since “the process is ongoing,” but did allow that the deal is related to the closure of the KVR Trail where it crosses land owned by Debi McGinn and Andrew Brice.
Neither owner could been reached for comment.
Beithel said the RDOS board’s decision to support the land swap “will be taken into consideration by the ministry, but it will not necessarily determine the outcome of the application.”
He also noted there is no deadline in place to finalize the agreement.
McGinn and her husband purchased the land in question from CP Rail in 2010 and a year later blocked public access to their portion of the KVR Trail in a bid to apply pressure to the B.C. government to enter into the swap.
In March 2012, they restored access via the U-shaped detour involved in the deal, although that was also closed off briefly in August 2013.
Siddon added that there is also “apparently a remedy included in this agreement” to provide permanent access to a proposed waterfront development to the north at Sickle Point, likely over the newly acquired Crown land.
“The province is just trying to get this rather nasty issue put to bed,” said Siddon.