Bridge Lake island swap gains ground

A developer who proposed a potential land swap of Heritage Island in Bridge Lake for Crown land on the lakeshore may get his wish.

A developer who proposed a potential land swap of Heritage Island in Bridge Lake for Crown land on the lakeshore may get his wish.

Julian Kenney had originally planned to develop a subdivision on the island, but that fell flat after a public outcry left him unable to get required Cariboo Regional District (CRD) approvals.

Kenney and his agent Nigel Hemingway then approached the provincial government for a land swap in mid-2008, through the Integrated Land Management Bureau (ILMB).

In his Jan. 26 newsletter, CRD Area L Director Bruce Rattray informed constituents of some recent advancement with that proposal.

“I am advised the province has now made an offer to swap Heritage Island for Crown land on the south side of Bridge Lake … approximately half the size of the original [swap] proposal.”

Hemingway says a voluntary public information meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Feb. 28 at Interlakes Community Hall to present the plan and get public input before the rezoning and related applications are submitted to the CRD in March.

Meanwhile, Dwain Kotowick, who owns land adjacent to the proposed lakefront property Kenney wants to develop, says he’s “annoyed” he couldn’t convince Hemingway to reschedule the public meeting for the third week of March, as he is in Guatemala for six weeks to build an orphanage.

“They certainly didn’t talk to us before they booked the meeting. I think that my opinion is as important as anyone else who will be at that meeting.”

Along with a neighbour who also can’t attend the meeting, Kotowick says he has been the driving force in bringing related facts to the public eye. He adds many retired residents count on his involvement, as they are not prepared to fight it themselves.

However, Kenny says the meeting was scheduled to accommodate many people’s timelines, and that he and his clients don’t typically ask individuals what the best date is for them.

“The hall was already booked before [Kotowick] called me. The meeting was [also] scheduled in and around director Rattray’s availability so he would be able to attend, and I think that’s much more important.”

Rattray notes the meeting had been delayed already to work with his schedule, but adds he has no problem with a further postponement to accommodate concerned residents.

Kotowick says he is definitely concerned, as he lives next door and the proposed lakeside parcel is sitting within a Crown reserve.

“I have documentation from the [Ministry of Agriculture and Lands] saying that it was, in fact, a Crown reserve and that it needed to be recognized.”

He notes other suitable waterfront Crown land is available that isn’t in the reserve, but is being ignored.

Despite what he was previously informed in writing by the ministry, Kotowick says he has been told by the ILMB that if the swap goes through, they can, and will, cancel the Crown reserve.

“I bought a piece of property based on the fact there was a Crown reserve there. Now, they just

wipe it out.”

Hemingway confirms there is a

UREP (Use for Recreation and Enjoyment of the Public) Crown reserve currently on the parcel, and that it will be removed if the plan goes forward.

The subdivision plan includes fewer lots than did the larger, previous 23-lot proposal, and each will be a minimum size of 0.8 hectares, he explains.

Hemingway says the preliminary subdivision design will be presented to the Friends of Bridge Lake group on Feb. 9 before he will comment on the subdivision, but he adds the new development plan will be made available for public review by Feb. 10.