A government decision could be the kiss of death for an outdoor performance venue anywhere in the Okanagan.
The provincial government announced Wednesday that it will not allow a ravine at Okanagan College to be used by the Okanagan Summer Festival Society for an amphitheatre.
“The process was short-circuited,” said Diane Bond, society spokesperson, adding that planning for the facility wasn’t to the stage that the government had been asked permission to use the site.
As owner of the land in question, the provincial government has final say on development matters.
“This was an initiative to benefit a large number of people. The valley is trying to establish itself as a cultural destination and what it doesn’t have is a marquee attraction,” said Bond.
“People sought me out and said this was a good idea. They said this was needed in the North Okanagan. You are losing a big opportunity.”
Bond says the ravine at the college and the view of Kalamalka Lake were well-suited for the 5,500-seat amphitheatre and it may be impossible to find another location.
“The requirements are very exacting,” she said.
“If you don’t have a site, you have nothing to sell. I can’t ask people for money and talk to the government without a site.”
The provincial government’s decision Wednesday was good news for adjacent neighbours concerned about potential noise, traffic and the environment.
“We are relieved and we are happy,” said resident Joan Rowan.
“We thought it was wrong from the get-go. We did what we had to do to stop it. The proposal caused a lot of worry and sleepless nights.”
The government nixed plans for the amphitheatre after consultation with Eric Foster, Vernon-Monashee MLA.
“It’s a good idea – potentially very good for the community – but it’s the wrong location,” said Foster.
“I feel that an amphitheatre at that location would degrade the quality of life for residents who live near the campus.”
“I made my feelings, and the feelings of local residents, clear to the Ministry of Advanced Education that this project should not go ahead, and the ministry agreed,” said Foster.
Coldstream council had opposed the Kal Bowl proposal.
“I had no problem with the concept of an amphitheatre but the location was all wrong for Coldstream,” said Coun. Pat Cochrane.
“I am surprised the government acted so forcefully but I am pleased they have.”