The BX Swan Lake Community Association is strongly in favour of retaining the BX Ranch land property in public hands.
The community, including residents of Vernon and Coldstream, have supported public ownership of this unique and centrally located 137 acres through a 1500-name petition. We have a committee working hard to find partners to develop the land as an agricultural park. But until public ownership is assured it is difficult for organizations to invest time and expertise in its future.
The land in question is a community asset situated on the city’s eastern boundary adjacent to the East Hill area, one of the densest populations in the regional district. A property of equal value to the BX Ranch land will never again be available. In the public domain, it would contribute to the whole area’s agricultural and recreational potential.
We believe representatives from Vernon and Coldstream wish to sell the ranch land and use the funds to purchase land for parks in their own jurisdictions. However, it would be impossible to acquire any property within those boundaries with as much future potential for the citizens of the community as a whole.
There is also the matter of fairness. The taxpayers of areas B and C contribute to parks in Vernon and Coldstream and we have a right to expect support for parks in our areas. This has not been the case up to now. The small amount of land that has been purchased is much less than our financial contribution warrants.
City politicians also have projects in their jurisdictions that they expect areas B and C to support. Residents of our areas make good use of these parks and other recreational facilities. However, Vernon and Coldstream residents also use our parks and, in the future, would also benefit from a large green space with its potential for many recreational and agricultural activities.
There are no costs to the Regional District of the North Okanagan to continue safeguarding this unique and valuable property. In fact, the land returns money to the public purse through the lease payments of a local farmer currently using the land for hay production. There is no downside for taxpayers and we maintain this valuable community resource should not be sold into private ownership.
The BX Swan Lake Community Association encourages residents to imagine the possibilities. Holding this land as open green space, controlled locally, for the benefit of both city and regional residents, will be a legacy for future generations.
Terry Donnelly, Secretary, BX Swan Lake Community Association