Taxpayers now own a ramshackle property attached to the southwest corner of Okanagan Falls Provincial Park.
The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen announced Wednesday it bought the property at 1295 Green Lake Road for $175,000, well under the 2012 assessed value of $229,700.
Tom Siddon, the RDOS director for the area, said it was a court-ordered sale triggered by the death of the owner and subsequent disagreements by the owner’s heirs. The property has long been in a “terrible state of desecration,” he noted, so when the opportunity to buy presented itself, he recommended the RDOS do it.
“There are some people in (Okanagan Falls) who might say, ‘That’s private land, we didn’t need to get it.’ But on the other hand, once you pass up the opportunity you can’t get it back except by paying a lot more money.”
Siddon said he expects RDOS staff will begin cleaning up the property this fall by removing some of the junk that’s strewn about. It would be fitting to then sell or lease the land to BC Parks to increase the size of the campground, Siddon said, “but other ideas came to the table as well, as to what the community’s interest might be.”
“It certainly one way or another has to be used for recreational use,” Siddon continued, adding it could also be a bargaining chip in separate negotiations with B.C. Parks to have Christie Memorial Park at the south end of Skaha Lake placed under RDOS control.
Dan Ashton, chair of the RDOS board, said the acquisition on Green Lake Road was “a great purchase for us (and) a great purchase for everybody in the province, we hope.”
He said the property ought to be tacked on to the campground “to make a bigger and better park for everybody to utilize. It’s an absolutely beautiful spot.”
The 25-site, two-hectare campground could probably grow by a handful of spaces with the new addition.
“BC Parks has a very limited budget for land acquisitions and we rely on strong partnerships with other levels of government and the community to assist in key acquisitions,” spokesperson Suntanu Dalal said via email.
“In this case, BC Parks is exploring mechanisms, such as a lease agreement, that would create a strong partnership with the RDOS to manage this land for park purposes.”