Vernon willing to work with housing project developer

City issues clarifications on next steps in dispute over Highlands of East Hill project’s shutdown

The City of Vernon is clarifying the next steps in the case of The Highlands of East Hill development shutdown.

Stoni Consolidated Holdings of Lake Country announced Friday it was putting on hold, indefinitely, its project on the top of 39th Avenue, on the site of the former McMechan Water Reservoir, where 173 multiple housing units, commercial property and green space was proposed and given the green light by Vernon council in 2018.

Construction was expected to begin at the end of July.

READ MORE: Major Okanagan housing development shuts down

But, on a notice posted on its website, the developer said on Aug. 1 the city’s legal counsel informed Stoni Consolidated that the developer could no longer rely on the commitments made by the city. Most of the commitments, said Stoni Consolidated, are related specifically to permits or city-controlled costs.

The developer said the city’s commitments regarding the timing of providing building permits, engineering approvals and site access agreements were also rescinded.

In a release issued Wednesday, the city said it owns the development lands and has a contract to sell the lands to Vernon Reservoir Developments Limited (Stoni Consolidated). The city and Vernon Reservoir Developments Limited have a disagreement over the interpretation of the contract.

“As with all other developers, the city has full intention to treat Vernon Reservoir Developments Limited fairly and equitably, within the scope of the city’s legislative authority,” said the release.

READ MORE: McMechan Reservoir to become mini-neighbourhood

The development lands have been rezoned and the development permit (conditional on purchase of the lands) for phases 1 to 6 and phase 8 of the project has been issued.

“The city has also advised Vernon Reservoir Developments Limited that the city is ready and willing to complete the sale of the development lands, and has delivered to Vernon Reservoir Developments Limited’s lawyers (in trust) the documents necessary to do so,” said the city in its release.

The developer said it would issue deposit refunds totalling nearly $24 million to the 46 pre-sale homeowners, and that they would be contacting all homeowners today (Wednesday) to provide more information and answer specific questions.

Owners’ representative Jonathon Campbell said via e-mail Wednesday afternoon that he did not have a comment for the media.

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