The ongoing dispute over Cosens Bay Road in Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park has become extremely polarized.
On the one side, some residents insist creating a 20-metre right-of-way will divide the park’s sensitive ecosystem while the Ministry of Transportation and some property owners at the Cosens Bay cabin colony say the right-of-way is needed to increase safety and consistent road maintenance.
Back and forth the arguments go, and no resolution appeared possible until Wednesday when the Regional District of North Okanagan board met.
Unanimously, the directors acknowledged that there are safety concerns on portions of the road but instead of a 20-metre right-of-way, they want the Ministry of Transportation to focus only on those areas where there is an identified risk to motorists.
And, if safety is truly the priority, then it makes complete sense to install culverts where drainage is actually needed and widen corners where two vehicles passing is challenging, particularly given that government funding for capital works is fairly limited.
Ministry officials insist that creating a 20-metre right-of-way now would provide an adequate land base for future road upgrades if needed. While reducing bureaucratic hoops is admirable, those legislative steps should be delayed to when, and if, future work is required. That would also allow the public and property owners to be more directly involved in any plans that are presented in the future.
But, more importantly, by focusing only on the current safety issues at hand, the ministry would send a strong message to the property owners and park advocates that their concerns are being addressed.
It is time for some middle ground to be found in this protracted fight, and the regional district may have the answer.