Sickle Point developer runs into roadblock

Regional district board unanimously opposed to licensing road for controversial development

Another pothole has been placed in the path of a developer who’s asking the B.C. government to licence a permanent roadway to provide access to Sickle Point.

The property on Skaha Lake just north of Kaleden has been at the centre of a decades-long battle between neighbours who want the wetland left alone and a developer who has proposed a five-lot subdivision on the site.

There is no approved access to the waterfront property, although in 1992 a roadway was constructed that owner Mel Reeves has now asked the province to licence. The decision rests with the Integrated Land Management Bureau, which requested comment from the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen.

Allan Patton, the RDOS director for rural Oliver, led the opposition that culminated last Thursday with a unanimous vote to recommend the government deny the application and decommission the road permanently.

“There is no commitment by the ILMB or by the province to provide roads into properties such as this one. So I’d like to see that road removed and that area be returned to its original, natural state,” Patton said.

RDOS chief administrative officer Bill Newell said the roadway that Reeves’ company, Reum Holdings, wants to make official was built under a permit two decades ago, but that permit has now expired.

According to the management plan Reeves submitted as part of his application to the ILMB, the road would provide a connection to the KVR Trail and be used year-round to provide access to “current one family recreational use on Sickle Point with future five lot subdivision planned.”

The application asks that the licence be granted in perpetuity and notes there are no plans to upgrade the road, but rather maintain it because it was built to unspecified “highways standards.”

Ever since Sickle Point was sold by Canadian Pacific Railway to a private owner in the late 1970s, area residents have been concerned about the fate of the marshy, ecologically sensitive property.

Tensions were ratcheted up in 2007 when Reeves cleared part of the land ostensibly to prepare it for a single-family dwelling. The work was undertaken without proper permits and later stopped under threat of legal action.

In 2009, neighbours blocked access to the site to protest ongoing development there. One of the protesters was Tom Siddon, now the area director for the RDOS. Siddon recused himself from Thursday’s discussion because of the “strong views” he has previously expressed on the issue.

An online real estate listing for the two-hectare Sickle Point property has it priced at $7.8 million.