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Kelowna Mountain developer causes kerfuffle with property improvements

Saturday, September 12th, 2009 | 6:00 am

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Mark Consiglio

Mark Consiglio

By Kathy Michaels

Whether it’s a flagrant violation of  guidelines or simply a wonderland for a lucky group of family and friends remains to be seen. But whatever is happening up at the private property on the Kelowna Mountain development is causing a stir and a lot of work for local government officials.

Earlier this summer, the Central Okanagan Regional District’s governance and services committee asked some of their staff to look into the legitimacy around  a man-made lake and suspension bridge that had popped up on the property off Chute Lake Road, explained communication director Bruce Smith. The property, which is outside of City of Kelowna boundaries, is within the purview of the regional district and ultimately all activity on it should theoretically be given their stamp of approval. But that wasn’t the case.

In short order, the committee learned the lands was not covered by their Official Community Plan and as such they had no ability to stop a property owner from any land-altering activities. Their only recourse was to defer to provincial agencies, such as ones that oversee water quality and riparian land protection.

So they made those contacts and the  committee then asked staff to go on a fact-finding mission.

“The regional district tried to contact the property owner and there was no response,” said Smith, adding they did eventually hear from the solicitor of the property owner, who told the district would it not be given access to the site.

“So in August we contracted an aerial photo service to fly over and photo document activities on the property,” he said. “The committee report showed a number of photos of construction and earth moving activities that have taken place.”

And the developments weren’t minor, Smith added. From their vantage point they were able to make out a suspension bridge, a ski mountain, a bike hill with four towers, a man-made lake, a half-pipe and a dam.

“Our planning staff forwarded information to the Ministry of Environment and they called the provincial Report All Poachers and Polluters line, advising of a water act violation,” said Smith. “Then we were contacted by the Conservation Office that they are doing an investigation of the allegations and we are awaiting a report back.”

Land owner  Mark Consiglio said he doesn’t expect much from the report because by his estimate there are no rules being broken.

“Four years ago we built a skating pond and a little family ski hill for our kids, family and friends,” he said, adding that those infrastructure upgrades, and the Olympic half-pipe on site are not for commercial use.
“Back then we invited the mayor and half of council up — they’ve all seen it. Everything we have done was done was done awhile ago and without the requirement of any permits.”

Consiglio stressed that the ammenitites up there are for his friends and family, and due process is being respected. “We are taking a really pragmatic approach,” he said. “It’s private property, we own it and we will stand firmly on that.”

As for whether or not Consiglio found a loophole that frees him from the application process  remains to be seen, but this kerfuffle may serve as a cautionary tale to the regional district.

“We have development permit areas and  development permit guidelines that are attached to protect environment, and wildfire guidelines to guide future developments,” said Smith. “But in the absense of that, we have no development guidelines for anything there.”

The area will soon have an official community plan, and once that’s done Smith isn’t sure how the Consiglio developments will be figured into the equation.

“I am not sure if we would work with what’s been done, or whether we could go back and seek mitigation,” he said.


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12 Responses to “Kelowna Mountain developer causes kerfuffle with property improvements”

  1. terry johnston says:
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    If he is not physically putting neighbors at physical risk I strongly don’t believe it is anyone’s business. I don’t include the fact that people can see it as long as is is tastefully done or well obscured with natural visual obstruction.

  2. MHoople says:
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    Seems like RDCO is sad because they did not receive any $$ money from the land owner for improvements more than anything else.

    To go and hire a firm to do aerial photos when they already knew the district had no control. Sort of like swatting a fly with an elephant in my opinion.

    As the song goes “One way or another I’m gonna find ya
    I’m gonna getcha getcha getcha getcha One way or another I’m gonna win”

  3. Uppermission says:
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    I applaud Consiglio for doing something – making a decision and moving forward with it. Kelowna City Council is an absolute joke for making decisions (as we’ve seen recently with the Pontoon project) and the RDCO is upset that they don’t get their piece of pie. Being that this if private property, Kelowna and RDCO can suck it up an wait their turn. If Kelowna Mountain is moving towards a commercial development, I’m all for it, and welcome it with open arms!

  4. olaf pinecone says:
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    I believe the City of Kelowna (…those that run the city that is), are loosing
    face and ground quickly in this city. The city will spend more of our
    money on legalities of this situation because they dropped the ball in
    the first place.

    Now I hear that they are busy trying to run West Kelowna too, with the
    proposal for a wharf on Shannon Lake.

    If you can’t make good decisions for the City of Kelowna, don’t try to
    ruin an up and coming brand new city with your stupid decisions! Kelowna
    leaders are already labelled as (???).

    signed: Ready to fight for Gore Street; Kelowna, BC (yet another stupid
    decision the city is making!!!!!!)

  5. Fred says:
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    If the development is not in step with provincial laws, then there should be no variance make him take it all down.
    If he has not broken the law, then leave him alone. The way I see it, this city invites the problems they face.
    Someone builds a structure that is outside regulations and
    the city and for that matter the regional district then
    extends, a variance order instead of enforcing the law as it is. This allows people the attitude that they can do
    whatever they want, and the authorities will bow down.
    The first thing that should happen is determine if any law
    or regulations has been broken, and if not move on.

  6. Rutland06 says:
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    As much as I detest the city and the regional district for the way they handle a lot of things concerning development. I hope the Ministry of Environment holds the developer responsible to fullest extent of the law if there is indeed a water act violation. Ive disliked this development from the get go for many reasons but this is utterly ridiculous. I can’t believe for one second that a developer can or should be allowed to create a man made lake without any consultation with the municipal, regional and provincial governments regardless of whether or not it falls within the jurisdiction of any community plans. We’re talking about a very large amount of water that’s being stored on this property. Wheres the proof that the dams holding this water back have been engineered by a geotechnical engineer? What happens if there is a failure, what would be the impact on the neighboring area? Where did all this water come from in the first place? Did the developer divert water from a nearby waterbody? All these questions are things the city the regional district and the neighboring residents have every right to know BEFORE the developer began work. Given the fact that we live in a bit of a desert my biggest concern is where did the developer get the water to fill his lake? I like how they claim its not for commercial purposes. Of course its for commercial purposes its a gimmick along with the suspension bridge and his ski park junk designed to help sell his high priced real estate. I think the argument its private property he can do as he pleases is a little stretched in this case. Id agree if we’re talking a home owner that wants to build a deck in his backyard without a permit, fine. But come on we’re talking about tons of water here, there are numerous environmental, and engineering concerns that need to be addressed. I think its irresponsible on the developers part and I hope that something is done about it.

  7. kris says:
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    Poor RDCO, No cash grab = angry chairperson. I smell a witch hunt!!!!

  8. QWERTY says:
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    Seems the developer can’t make up his mind if he building all this for his family, OR, if he is doing it in accordance to the grandIous plans (see his website) that he sold to countless local investors. Wonder how these investors feel when Mr. CONsiglio talks about building all this just for his family?

  9. Emily says:
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    There is No Dam and there is No lake!!it’s a small pond!!They are in for a lawsuit for wrongfully accusing!!I am up there all the time!!

  10. Sharon upper mission says:
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    Our family is all for a Ski hill and Snowpark. A developer possibly Really doing ammemites!!WoW!! Give your head a shake people!!It would be awesome!!

  11. Jamie says:
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    It’s sad to see that the RDCO has nothing better to do than to spend it’s time and waste countless dollars investigating a private property. Aireal photos? Are you kidding me? What a waste of money. If the RDCO had any sense about them, they would have known that a 4 foot deep pond and half pipe have been there for a few years now. All of Kelowna council and a a lot of the public have. Good on the developer to build something like a suspension bridge. If that is ever open to the public, what a great thing for the community. Maybe the bigger story here is how the poor RDCO didn’t get to put their hands in the pot when someone comes up with a great idea that will only make the region a better place.

  12. florance.n&g says:
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    RDCO “Bank” is upset because they have not recieved a hefty deposit in their piggy banks!!!!!!
    Do you buy a car without test driving??? do you buy a house without looking at it?? please, this is private property..instead of just paper, this developer is acting on what he wants BUT!!!! making sure it is safe, and factual before giving accsess to the public. How great would that be to go minutes and ski, tube ride, snowboard, go for beatiful hikes….horses..the possibilities are endless. It is not another cookie cutter development where you cant even fit a mini pool and bbq in..these are sizable lots…and afforadable ammenties in the future..”hopefully”!!! So if all these nay sayers will just support, positive, econmic, green, affordable growth for once…..put your brooms away and find a better fight…are you that hard up??

    Please continue discussion on the forum: link