The Coyote Cruises bus picks up customers at the exit point near the mouth of Skaha Lake. (File photo)

Confusion over land ownership along Okanagan River Channel

There appears to be some confusion about ownership of two of the properties Coyote Cruises uses

There appears to be some confusion as to who the rightful owner is of two of the properties Coyote Cruises uses as part of its channel float business.

Site maps on the BC Land Title and Survey Authority website identify the parcels of land, the midway point just north of Green Mountain Road and the final exit point at the southwest corner of the channel as being provincial Crown land.

However, the website also includes a disclaimer that: “the content, the services and the website may not be accurate, complete or current.”

READ MORE: Floating the Okanagan River Channel in jeopardy?

Early Tuesday afternoon Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki indicated city staff were also working to accurately determine who the owner of the properties is and was hoping to have that information by the end of the day.

Requests by the Western News last week and on Tuesday to BC Forest Lands and Natural Resources Operations about land ownership went unanswered by press time.

But, according to Mike Campol, director of partnerships and projects for the K’ul Group, which oversees the operations of Coyote Cruises on behalf of the Penticton Indian Band, there is no question about who owns the properties.

“It’s definitely band land and is recognized by the city as band land and by the province and the federal government,” said Campol this week, calling the Land Title maps “faulty” and “bad.”

“The only Crown land would be the federal easement. It is 100 per cent (Penticton Indian) band land.”

READ MORE: New shuttle service to and from Okanagan River Channel

The two parcels of land became of particular interest last week after the Western News (June 21) published a story in which Campol raised concerns Coyote Cruises’ float business could end.

K’ul and the City of Penticton are in the process of negotiating an agreement for a 20-year lease of the city-owned Riverside Park property, a portion of which Coyote Cruises uses as the starting point for tubers.

However, to reach an agreement the two sides must go through new approval procedure, the parkland protection and use process, involving public engagement and approval.

Campol also raised concerns at the time about the cost of the new lease or land-use permit being unaffordable, going to an estimated $10,000 to $15,000 from $3,000 annually.

READ MORE: Significant changes coming for Okanagan River Channel tubing

He felt because those properties are on band land there should be some compensation for their use if the business was to continue.

“Since the (Western News) article came out Friday, we’ve had some really productive talks with the city and I’m feeling much more confident that we’ll be going forward from here,” said Campol.

“I think it’s changed the direction of the conversation in a more meaningful way. I think, for me, it was letting more of the public understand that there is as much value in PIB land as there is in parkland.”

While he added he likes and trusts the city staff and elected officials he is dealing with on the matter, he did not feel the process was balanced.

Anthony Haddad, director of development services for the city earlier described the process so far as “very positive,” adding everyone’s working towards a “positive opportunity.”

“The Coyote Cruise operation has massive community benefit for us all,” said Haddad.

The agreement process is currently under review by the Parks and Recreation Committee as part of the nine-step agenda.


 

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