Cosens Bay Road
In the mid 1970s a company was proposing to buy the land that is now Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park and develop it. The people of Coldstream, Vernon and area did a huge amount of work and managed to get the provincial government to buy the land for a provincial park to protect the extensive grasslands habitat and provide recreational opportunities.
Grasslands are a unique ecological system that provides habitat for an enormous number of species. It represents only 5 per cent of B.C. lands and of that 5 per cent, 95 per cent is in private hands so Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park is a precious parcel of publicly owned Okanagan grasslands habitat. It is also a rare public outdoor recreation area that is used by large numbers of walkers, hikers, runners, cyclists and horseback riders every day of the year.
Therefore I was upset to learn that at the request of the small group of people who access their properties through Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park the Ministry of Transportation is proposing to remove a 30-metre wide strip of land through a major section of the grasslands in the park to "make the road safer."
This may make the road safer for humans in cars and trucks but the increased traffic and speed will further endanger the animals and reptiles that the park was set aside to protect. It will also increase the danger to people walking, biking and horseback riding as the trails cross this road in a number of places.
It will also provide a wide enough corridor that the residents will undoubtedly next request that hydro, water and sewer be extended to serve them and then they will need a school bus, all at a significant cost to all taxpayers. It will almost certainly also facilitate further development of the private land beyond the park increasing the pressure on the road, the park and the lake all of which are already very heavily used.
I am further alarmed that it seems the Ministry of Transportation came up with this plan without first consulting either Coldstream municipality or the regional district. This is an infringement on the local authorities who have been working hard to reduce sprawl and keep costs for infrastructure under control.
I understand that Parks could issue highways a Park Use Permit as alternative means of allowing work to be done on the road. It would allow work to be done to improve the dangerous sections of the road but would not involve removing any land from the park. This would seem a way to maintain the integrity of the park and allow highways to make the road safer.