An opportunity has come knocking on Coldstream’s door to preserve a valuable piece of property while supporting efforts of the region’s lake defenders.
The Society for the Protection of Kalamalka Lake (SPrKL) is proposing to rent the district-owned log house on Kalavista Road (next to the lagoon).
Since costly upgrades to the house currently prevent it from being used by the public, it is sitting vacant.
“The property has been boarded up and is at risk of becoming derelict,” said Maria Besso, one of the founding members of SPrKL.
Meanwhile, the society is in need of a home.
Therefore members have proposed to pay $1,000 rent, based on a one-year trial, to use the home to store equipment and work from (which it used to operate out of).
But the society is not interested in paying utilities or providing upkeep of the grounds, such as mowing. It has asked that Coldstream pay $500 to SPrKL for caretaker services, including keeping the grounds open to the public, opening and closing gates and performing small maintenance and repairs.
The society is also keen on upgrading the log home so that one day it can return to being used by the public. The home currently needs approximately $15,000 in repairs to bring it up to code to allow for residential use. It would cost $28,600 to make it publicly accessible.
“We can apply for grants to slowly improve the property over time,” said Besso, adding that they would also put money back into signage and projects to benefit the property and/or community.
The property was purchased in 2007 by Jim and Christine Cookson who then offered to sell it to the Regional District of North Okanagan. It was purchased for $875,000 in 2011 and then in 2014 it was transferred to Coldstream through the new parks arrangement.
“A significant investment has already been made by Greater Vernon taxpayers,” said Besso.
“This (proposal) would offer a win-win solution that is not costly to the taxpayers.”
It would also make it easier for the society to continue its work in protecting Kalamalka Lake, which includes lake monitoring.
“I’ve noticed it’s becoming more and more difficult to serve the lake,” said former SPrKL president Trina Koch.
The security of having SPrKL members at the property is peace of mind for neighbours, says member Flo Ryan, who lives on Kalavista Drive.
“To have a caretaker in the log house would be ideal.”
Kala Star Academic School is also eager to see SPrKL move in to the location, which is ideal for school groups.
“Kalamalka Lake is such a precious commodity to us,” said Brad Swanson, Kala Star facilitator.
“We need to educate not just our community but those who come here to use it.”
Coldstream is considering SPrKL’s proposal.
“If there is any legal way we can approve your request I would support it,” said Coun. Gyula Kiss.
There are concerns that having the society using the home could leave the district liable.