A project to build a gondola over Lake Kalamalka has hit a snag.
Regional District of North Okanagan (RDNO) staff do not support supporting the proposed Okanagan Gondola project, which would take visitors 1,600 feet from a Bailey Road site south of Vernon near the trail Okanagan Railway to the summit.
The ambitious multi-million dollar project would include ziplines, restaurants, retail outlets, an outdoor light show area, wedding and event venues, tree forts, a playground games, a plaza, an amphitheater, trails and more.
“The planning department recommends that the request not be approved as it is not supported by the Official Community Plan (OCP) policies,” reads a staff report to RDNO directors, who will have the final say on the request. modification of the OCP.
OCP policies encourage development on commercially designated lands in OCP and discourage commercial development and signage along the Highway 97 corridor in the South Entrance area, according to the report.
The property to be developed covers just over 116 hectares on the west side of Highway 97. Two portions of the property totaling nearly 20 hectares are within the Agricultural Land Reserve (RAL).
The OCP for Electoral Areas B and C identifies the site as having moderate to very high environmental conservation values, according to the report.
The RDNO planning department cited a number of reasons for choosing not to recommend project approval.
One of the reasons is the use of ALR land for non-agricultural purposes. Another is that OCP Gateway policy discourages direct access to and from Interstate 97. Although staff acknowledged that the application does not offer direct access to the interstate, most traffic to to and from the site would use Bailey Road and the 97 freeway intersection, which has no traffic control signals.
“The proposed development support could set a perceived precedent leading to additional demands for commercial development in designated rural areas along the Highway 97 corridor,” the report states.
“Ultimately, the Planning Department is of the view that the OCP Gateway’s policies to discourage commercial development south of the city of Vernon are essential to maintaining the rural character of the area.”
The applicant seeks to revise the OCP land use designation of the non-ALR portion of the property from large property to commercial and commercial recreational.
The next board meeting will take place on March 16.