Crawford Bay land sale triggers park talk
Some residents of Crawford Bay say the impending sale of 162 acres (65.5 hectares) of land right on Kootenay Lake is a golden opportunity for the community to have a regional park.
Crawford Bay is a small community on the East Shore of Kootenay Lake, 80 kilometres north of Creston on Highway 3A and five kilometres from the Kootenay Bay Ferry terminal.
A petition circulating in the community calls on the Regional District of Central Kootenay to purchase the land before it’s snapped up by a private developer.
“The undersigned are of the view that the acquisition of the Bay Headlands is a severely limited time opportunity and therefore a situation requiring accelerated RDCK and stakeholder response” the petition states, calling on the RDCK to give an immediate ‘in principle’ commitment to buy the land.
But the area’s regional director says it’s important to look before the community leaps into buying the land.
The Kokanee Springs resort put the property up for sale recently, with the MLS site calling it “one of the prime holdings of the Kokanee Springs master planned community.”
With 16 10-acre lots and 3,000 feet of frontage on the government’s beachfront reserve, the property is “ideally suited for a private lake-front estate with your own private air strip… or a phased development opportunity”, the listing continues.
The price? A cool $3.75 million dollars.
“Area A does not have anywhere near anything like that in reserve,” says Area A Director Garry Jackman. While by-laws allow the Regional District to borrow the money from other Areas or from the bank, he says it has to be done carefully.
“In exercising that power to borrow, a judgement has to be made on the value of the levels of investment in one portion of a very spread-out community versus other portions,” stated Jackman.
The notion of a regional park in Crawford Bay has been talked about a long time. It’s mentioned in the Area master planning document, but only to the extent of calling it a good idea.
For it to go beyond that, Jackman says they need to know what the community really thinks.
“We have a community plan full of statements valuing specific objectives, like waterfront access, outdoor recreation, construction of trails- this kind of thing,” Jackman says. “But it’s not in the normal master plan.
“For the regional district to move ahead with developing a major regional park, staff feels we need more public consultation.”
Jackman says the land could be good for several kinds of public use- from conservation area to fish habitat to recreation- but the public really has to decide what they want, how it would be used, and if they’re willing to pay for it.
“So we’re going to expand the conversation around what the community would like to see in the long term,” says Jackman, noting he’d like residents of the whole area- from Riondel to Wynndel- have a say on the matter before the Regional District decides its next move.
“What we’re doing now is asking the public how strong they feel about the need to develop a sub-regional facility on a bigger scale than the one we have,” he says. “So this is a much more firm community pulse-taking.”
It’s also a chance for the RDCK to see if there would be any possible sponsors or partners for the purchase- including the possibility of entering an agreement with a stewardship group.
But is Jackman himself in favour of the idea?
“I pushed for a establishment of what I called a toe-hold in the area,” he says of the land the RDCK owns adjacent to the sale property. “I think that speaks to that.”
The community meeting will be held August 23 at 6 p.m. at Crawford Bay Hall.