At its May 25 meeting, District of Sicamous council voted to proceed with a municipal boundary expansion study, focusing on properties on the west side of the Sicamous channel up to and including Mara Hills, formerly Hyde Mountain. (Google Earth map image)

At its May 25 meeting, District of Sicamous council voted to proceed with a municipal boundary expansion study, focusing on properties on the west side of the Sicamous channel up to and including Mara Hills, formerly Hyde Mountain. (Google Earth map image)

Mara Hills owners back out of Sicamous boundary expansion study

District staff and council surprised by email from PintoWest Properties CEO

  • Jun. 13, 2022 5:20 a.m.

The District of Sicamous may be further downsizing the scope of a planned boundary expansion study.

At its May 25 meeting, council awarded the study to Lawson Engineering, which quoted $54,510 plus GST to do the work. However, council expects that number will be reduced as council also agreed to exclude Swansea Point from the study, having it focus only on the west side of the Sicamous Channel where, in 2021, 68 residents (from 39 households) petitioned the district to explore a boundary expansion.

The study was also to include Mara Hills (formerly Hyde Mountain). Town manager Evan Parliament said he’d met representatives from PintoWest Properties Ltd., the owners of Mara Hills, and they were interested in the expansion.

“They’ve got huge plans for Mara Hills,” said Parliament. “Ideally, they’d love to hook up to municipal water and sewer. They don’t want septic, they don’t want to do well water…”

At council’s June 8 meeting, Parliament and council were taken aback by a June 1 email from PintoWest chair and CEO Brian Lovig, stating PintoWest is not interested in Mara Hills becoming a part of the district.

“I understand that a potential expansion on the west side of Mara Lake is being considered,” reads the email. “Please be advised that Mara Hills has no desire to be annexed by the District of Sicamous. CSRD (Columbia Shuswap Regional District) and their staff have been excellent to deal with, are extremely professional so we’re happy to be in and to remain in, their jurisdiction.”

Parliament said he was surprised to receive the email from Lovig, who wasn’t among the PintoWest reps he spoke with.

Read more: Swansea Point removed from Sicamous municipal boundary expansion study

Read more: Shuswap golf course sells to Kelowna-based company

“If this is the case, that Mara Hills does not support annexation – I’ve been through this process enough where it’s time and money,” said Parliament. “I don’t know if there’s any point in continuing this.

With respect to those who petitioned the district, and concerns around future development at Mara Hills, Mayor Terry Rysz and councillors urged continuing with the study. 

“We might want to revise this one more time,” said Coun. Malcolm Makayev. “At our last council meeting we took out Swansea Point because there was no interest from Swansea Point. Now there’s no interest from Mara Hills. So be it. We’re not looking to aggressively expand.”

Parliament said the district could still enter into service agreements with Mara Hills for water and sewer.

In May, the CSRD approved a zoning amendment for Mara Hills, allowing it to proceed with developing a subdivision of up to 100 lots for seasonal use by recreational vehicles.

However, Parliament explained PintoWest’s vision for Mara Hills extends well beyond the RV lots.

“They’ve got major plans, multi millions and millions of dollars of infrastructure,” said Parliament. “I just don’t see it being on septic fields and wells. It would be a lot easier for them to at least have the study go through – the whole point of the annexation process is the study.”

“If they want our water and sewer – have we got our capacity increased yet? No. We can’t take on 100 houses, let alone 1,000,” commented Coun. Jeff Mallmes. “So are we going to offer them a servicing agreement? Who the hell is going to pay for it? They better annex in.”

The 264-acre Hyde Mountain Golf Course sold in July 2021 for $5.3 million to PintoWest Properties Inc. of Kelowna.


lachlan@saobserver.net
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