The regional district has given a big thumbs down to a 12-lot residential development and winery proposed on the east shore of Vaseux Lake.
“It was squashed pretty fast,” said Area C director Allan Patton after last week’s board meeting.
The proposal included amending the Official Community Plan and zoning to facilitate a 12-lot residential strata subdivision along the shore of the lake (just south of the sharp curve and rock bluff on Highway 97).
The applicant stated that approximately 1.2 hectares would accommodate the residential component, while the remainder (3.1 hectares) would be the agricultural component – vineyard and winery.
The applicant, represented by Brad Elenko of Urban Connections, says the agricultural potential will be improved and environmental and riparian areas will be protected. The applicant states the property is currently under-utilized, and housing demand will increase when the correctional centre is built near Gallagher Lake.
But regional district planner E. Riechert said Vaseux Lake is a migratory bird sanctuary and nationally significant for four threatened species. The property is also part of the Vaseux-Bighorn National Wildlife Area.
Riechert noted the Vaseux Lake area is not identified as a primary or secondary growth area in the 2010 Regional Growth Strategy.
A response from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations expressed a concern that the development will negatively impact habit values for aquatic and terrestrial species.
Riechert said the proposed development will introduce a new residential designation into an area not designated for growth. She noted the development of private water and sanitary systems should be discouraged. In addition, she expressed concern about the increase in wildlife-human interactions and an increase of invasive species.
Patton said the bottom line is the proposal is simply not appropriate for this highly sensitive ecological area. The director noted that he previously managed a campground in that area years ago, and even then campers said the ecological benefits should be protected.
During the discussion at the board table, Patton said he didn’t hear anything positive about the proposal.
The director pointed out that the regional district really scrutinizes proposals and asks if they will truly benefit the region in years to come. He said it’s not like yesteryear when governments said yes to any development.