- BC Games
CSRD votes to rezone Camp Grafton
While a majority of Columbia Shuswap Regional District directors initially expressed doubt, in the end, a vote to allow the rezoning of two residential lots at Camp Grafton in Magna Bay passed by a 4-1 margin.
The Kamloops United Church owns Camp Grafton, with a non-profit society running seasonal camp programs for youth. The church was seeking the rezoning of the two waterfront lots to help pay for an affordable housing project in Kamloops.
The camp is 18 hectares and the two lots to be carved off are one and two hectares in size.
A number of the CSRD directors were concerned with the prospect of the camp being eventually dismantled, as the property was sold off piece by piece.
The parks commission for the area, recommended against allowing the rezoning, as did the Little Shuswap Indian Band, who expressed concern over possible archeological values at the site.
Directors wondered about the possibility of requiring a restrictive covenant on the remainder of the property to ensure it could not be further subdivided, however, legally there was no mechanism to force the church to those terms. The church did not agree to voluntarily place restrictions on the property title, saying they could not commit future congregations to such limitations.
Directors had also heard complaints from area residents regarding the intention of Dr. Hartley Grafton, for whom the camp is named.
While some believed Grafton to have donated the property to the church with an express purpose that it be for a youth camp, Jennifer Keim, from the church’s development committee, was allowed to address the board and explained this was not the case.
In the mid-1950s, Grafton made a donation of $2,000 to the church, which the church then used to purchase the camp land.
“It was a natural tie in because Dr. Grafton was involved with the church and the Scouts, that there was a belief that both could benefit from the camp… But no one has every provided anything, a letter or other documents that he always wanted it to be a camp,” said Keim.
It was pointed out that the church was under no obligation to keep the camp, and could apply to the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure for a 17-lot subdivision on prime waterfront and then each new owner come to the CSRD for rezoning. The church could also sell the property outright.
“Staff is thinking that could be much more controversial,” said Charles Hamilton, chief administrative officer. “This proposal calls for the retention of a sizeable portion of the land for the camp.”
Keim told the board they have a close relationship with the society that runs the camp and that the sale of the remainder of the property is not being contemplated.
Keim’s information appeared to sway a number of directors, including Rhona Martin, who called it “the lesser of evils.”
Rene Talbot, Area D director remained the lone dissenting voice, saying he was opposed without some additional guarantee of protection for the camp lands, since he felt the donor’s intention was to ensure the land remained for the camp in perpetuity.