Ranch water line sits empty

Major dollars were spent to sink a water line into the ground at O’Keefe Ranch, but it sits unused.

About $225,000 went to extending a water line from Greater Vernon’s Duteau Creek source to the historic site in Spallumcheen last fall. But it hasn’t been activated because $25,000 to $30,000 in fees to the North Okanagan Regional District are outstanding.

“We’re not permitting them to connect until they pay the fees,” said Arnold Badke, NORD’s engineering general manager.

“It’s the way we treat any other development. Unless the board tells us to waive the fee, we have to follow the bylaw.”

NORD politicians approved the extended water line to the ranch in September 2009, although staff had cautioned against such a move because it could set a precedent for other Spallumcheen properties wanting water.

O’Keefe Ranch officials say the fees have not been paid because of a lack of financial resources.

“We raised all of the money to get the line in,” said Catherine Lord, manager.

“We still have to work through that last little bit (fees).”

It’s expected ranch representatives could be before the NORD board March 16.

“We will ask for the fees to be waived and if that doesn’t occur, the ranch board will have to look at how to handle the issue,” said Lord.

The reasons for extending the Duteau Creek source to the ranch’s administration building was to meet health standards and to ensure sufficient access to water in case of a fire.

“We need enough water pressure to protect the heritage buildings,” said Lord.

At present, the ranch continues to be served by a well.

Lord insists the lack of the Duteau Creek line won’t stop the ranch from opening an RV park this year because those spaces don’t have services of any kind.

Director Doug Dirk won’t speculate on  what the regional district will do with the request to waive the fees.

“It will be considered like any other request that comes alone,” he said.