The last CPR train to rumble past the the Kaleden siding lands just to the north of the landmark Kaleden hotel occurred on March 1, 1989.
No one (hindsight in this case being 20 / 20) that day could ever have envisioned the controversy that would follow that final act in the intervening 23 years over the short section of railway line constituting the siding lands in Lower Kaleden.
That controversy reached new highs on June 21 at the regional district board meeting as discussions took place over yet another property on the lake front to become embroiled in controversy. In a separate discussion, tree removal on the privately owned section of former rail line also added to the fray.
At the Thursday, June 21 regional district regular board meeting, Area “D” Director Tom Siddon appealed to the board to have a variance application before the board tabled for two weeks.
Regional district staff were recommending approval of a front parcel line setback to allow construction of a new garage at 206 Alder Avenue in Kaleden. that would place the garage one and half metres from the present alignment of Alder Avenue.
The property is bounded on the south by a “road in” – a Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure controlled roadway that provides access to Skaha Lake – and the variance would reduce the amount of the road that is currently being utilized for access to the property.
Siddon’s concerns centred on the use of the road ins in Kaleden, noting that there were three on Alder Avenue.
“This is a situation similar to Skaha Estates,” he said, “where in some cases neighbouring property owners take on a possesive nature and try to keep the public out.”
Siddon also expressed a wish to be brought into the discussion over the issue prior to a decision being made.
“There is a road in to the north of this property where the grade was raised – that material is spilling onto the the road in,” he said, “There is a larger issue here of public access versus property rights. The setback for the garage should be weighed against future uses for that road. I need two weeks to review this – the setback needs more careful consideration.”
Siddon noted the current issues with other properties in the area, as well as plans for the future that could include a bike lane and sewer line along the street.
Kaleden Recreation Commission Director Gail Owen was also present in the gallery, attempting to address the board at one point before being admonished by RDOS Chair Dan Ashton.
Siddon’s subsequent motion to defer the matter for two weeks received no second.
Oliver Rural Director Allan Patton expressed a desire to have the Advisory Planning Committee take a look at the variance. A procedural clarification was made by CAO Bill Newell who expressed that it was “improper (for a director) to instruct staff” at one point in the discussion. Chair Ashton also expressed that it was “inappropriate to have issues being brought into this that have nothing to do with this issue.”
Patton then put forth a motion to refer the matter to the APC before coming back to the board, which carried.
Chair Ashton concluded the discussion by noting that the property owner had filed his application in January and had not been dealt with until June, which also wasn’t appropriate.
The recent bulldozing of a number of cottonwood and other trees on the former KVR siding property has rankled property owners in Lower Kaleden, Director Siddon told the board as he made another appeal to the directors to allow for time to discuss the matter at the June 21 meeting, as it wasn’t on the agenda.
Siddon asked the CAO if the property was home to any red listed birds (that might result in a stop work order).
CAO Bill Newell responded that regional district officials had visited the site earlier in the week. He said the regional district was “locked into provincial designations regarding expert opinions.”
Siddon sought to ensure that the board wasn’t missing any steps in the process, expressing the view that the landowner was exhibiting “very poor judgement” in removing the trees.
On June 22, the Kaleden Recreation Committee held an emergency meeting in order to make a request to the regional district to take action on the three road ins on Alder Avenue.
“We are requesting that the regional district ask the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to let us take over the road ins along Alder Avenue,” Kal Rec Chair Gail Owen said on June 25. “We aren’t asking for anything precident setting – the ministry has already done this in Skaha Estates and in Naramata.”