A Vernon man is calling on Victoria to help preserve and expand some public access land in Okanagan Landing.
Mike Brown has started an online petition at change.org calling on the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change to purchase the 234-acre Chelsea Estate property on Cameron Road. The property neighbours Ellison Provincial Park and Predator Ridge Resort.
Brown would like to see the government buy the property to not only preserve the land, but to expand the public access to the Okanagan Lake shoreline by expanding recreational offerings at Ellison Park.
“Doing this will allow the ability to keep the lands in a more natural state, increase B.C. natural resources and allow for an expansion of the existing camping, hiking and mountain bike trail networks of Ellison Provincial Park with the adjoining properties,” Brown said.
“This will, in turn, offer the public more opportunity to unplug in the terrain’s natural and serene beauty in a controlled environment to protect the land.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, June 23, Brown’s petition had generated more than 1,275 signatures. The original goal was 1,000. It’s now been bumped to 1,500.
Among those signing the petition was former Vernon resident Nila Radwanski, who now lives in Edmonton.
“I grew up in this area. I slept under the stars on that beach,” said Radwanski. “If you walk to the point, there is a great place to dive as well as a rock so smooth that can hold three or four people just six inches under the waves. Do we want this area sold to private investors? No.”
The property came up at the regular meeting of Vernon council on June 22, with Coun. Scott Anderson successfully motioning for Mayor Victor Cumming to send a letter to Victoria, asking them to buy the land to use as park, and a letter to the Regional District of North Okanagan calling for their support of the initiative.
Colliers International has the listing for the property, advertising it as a “century-old property with significant development potential in the heart of British Columbia’s Okanagan region.”
Mark Lester, Colliers’ senior vice president, unique properties/personal real estate corporation, said there is no price tag on the property, though its cumulative assessed value is approximately $16.5 million.
The property is owned by a family in the Lower Mainland.
“The Chelsea Estate represents an incredible opportunity to carry on the legacy of a century-old property with significant development potential in the heart of British Columbia’s Okanagan region,” reads the Collier listing, adding the property is comprised of “234 acres of rolling hills, picturesque waterfront, agricultural land and an historic homestead estate situated on a stunning piece of waterfront on Lake Okanagan.”
The property has 11 individual land titles with nine offering water frontage, “spectacular low-bank, walk-on waterfront,” and accessible sandy beach areas.