A sky-high gondola project overlooking Kalamalka Lake can move forward, provided the developers meet a list of requirements outlined by the Regional District of North Okanagan (RDNO).
RDNO staff advised its directors to not support the ambitious project by Ridge North America ahead of an Electoral Area Advisory Committee meeting on Thursday, March 3. Their reasons included the fact that the Official Community Plan (OCP) discourages commercial development along the Highway 97 corridor in the southern gateway area, protecting the area’s rural character.
Access to the site using the Bailey Road and Highway 97 intersection was also a concern, as the intersection does not have traffic control signals.
However, at the meeting, electoral area directors overruled the recommendation and voted to give the project initial support.
The developers are applying to amend the OCP and a zoning bylaw to set the stage for the project. They still have a lot of work to do, as the directors attached several conditions to their approval.
In order for Ridge North America to further advance its proposal, they must engage with the RDNO Community Services Department, First Nations, the City of Vernon and the Ministry of Transportation. They also need to hold a public information meeting, get approval from a geotechnical engineer on the safety of the site, and submit a hydrogeological study as well as a study by a geotechnical engineer providing recommendations for potential on-site septic sewage disposal.
The proposed changes to the OCP and zoning bylaw will only be considered for second reading once the above requirements are complete.
The multi-million dollar project would feature zip lines, restaurants, retail outlets, an outdoor light show area, wedding and event venues, tree forts, a playground, plaza, amphitheatre, trails and more.
The site would feature an amphitheatre and other amenities at the base of the gondola on the west side of Kalamalka Lake, near Bailey Road. The gondola would take visitors up to a mid-station featuring viewing platforms and trails through the surrounding forest, and then onto the summit station 1,600 feet above Kalamalka Lake.
Ridge North America is known for having built the Golden Skybridge — Canada’s highest suspension bridge — in Golden.