Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson concluded that transfer of the reservoir, watershed, park lands, and some of the other Crown lands identified in the Rose Valley area would not be in the public interest, and these lands would remain Crown land.
Parcels of Crown land that were deemed unsuitable for transfer include:
- Lands around the Rose Valley watershed.
- Central Okanagan Regional District regional park area.
- Lands in the area of gravel reserves.
A map of the proposed parcels: http://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/downloads/Map_westside_proposed_parcels.jpg
In making his decision under the Land Act, the minister gave careful consideration to land transfer suitability, assessments and recommendations by ministry staff, as well as the direct feedback from many area residents and other stakeholders pertaining to the protection of the community watershed, the future of a regional park and other issues.
The lands in question were proposed in exchange for the commercial reserve lands required to construct the $41-million Westside Road Interchange along Highway 97. Federal law requires the replacement of the reserve lands. As such, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure will continue to work with Westbank First Nation to reach agreement on suitable replacement lands.
Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations -
"As with all potential transfers, my ministry does a comprehensive review that considers the social, environmental and economic impacts. My decision that these parcels are not suitable was based on staff's professional assessment."
Blair Lekstrom, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure -
"We respect the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources' careful consideration of our submission and their decision. We will continue to explore options to satisfy our agreement with Westbank First Nation."
Ben Stewart, MLA for Westside-Kelowna -
"After a very thorough review process, this is the right decision. I am pleased the concerns that were brought forward on behalf of many of my constituents have been addressed and that the watershed and park tenure will remain Crown land."
- The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and Westbank First Nation have already begun exploring other land exchange options for the construction of the Westside Road Interchange.
- When other lands are identified, all three parties will work closely to ensure broad public interests are identified and addressed early in the negotiations.
- The land transfer approval process includes appraisals by registered, professional appraisers, assessment of encumbrances, consultation with affected stakeholders and resolutions to land issues.
- A final decision on any proposed Crown land transfer requires approval of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, as well as the Government of Canada.
Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure's submission: www.th.gov.bc.ca/publications/reports_and_studies/Exchange_Land_Report.pdf
Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations