After hearing an appeal from Canoe Beach cabin owners, the City of Salmon Arm plans to discuss the residences slated for removal in 2021 further at a subsequent meeting.
The cabins, which sit on public land west of the Canoe Beach boat launch, have been owned privately on land leased from the city for decades. In 2016, the city agreed to extend the lease agreements for five years to Oct. 31 2021.
Cabin owners Carson Carter, a Calgary resident, and his daughter Kendall Pritchard presented to council at their July 22 meeting.
Carter said the cabin is dear to his family and news of the end of the lease was devastating. His presentation noted that some of the tenants have caused problems for the city, but he maintained that most of them have been good.
Coun. Louise Wallace Richmond said in her view the removal of the cabins is not about the bad behaviour of tenants, but about the growing scarcity of undeveloped waterfront suitable for public use.
“There’s only so much beachfront and there’s more and more people living here and visiting here,” she said.
“We do as a public share some beautiful spaces, Canoe Beach being one of them, and there’s an inherent imbalance in 28 people having access to half the beach.”
She added none of the cabins, which were constructed decades ago, would be allowed under modern regulations regarding habitat and riparian areas.
One of the conditions of the lease is that cabin owners must remove the structures within after the end of the lease. Carter said it is conceivable that some of the other tenants might simply walk away from their cabins without properly removing them.
Coun. Tim Lavery reminded Carter and Pritchard that the tenants of the cabins signed leases that made it clear they were final.
Lavery asked the presenters if they could appreciate that the cabins sit on public land that the public should have access to. Pritchard retorted that the existing public beach at Canoe is not full even on the hottest days. Carter added they have not been made privy to any plans for the site once the cabins have been removed.
Carter said there should be a compromise on the 30 days notice to remove the cabins as that isn’t a lot of time for the removal.
The presenters also took issue with the lack of engagement with the owners of the cabins when the termination of the lease was being decided on. Carter said they found out about the lease cancellation in the newspaper. He said he wishes they had been brought in on the conversation and a lot of people were upset about how it was communicated.
Coun. Kevin Flynn noted that this is the first time the issue has been discussed in public and more time should be devoted to the issue. He added that he voted in favour of terminating the leases in 2016, but said he isn’t sure he is in favour now.
“I think we will look really silly and fiscally irresponsible if we remove everybody from those leases in 2021 and we don’t do anything with the property because we don’t have any money to move forward,” Flynn said.
He said moving it back to public use is the right move long term but he isn’t sure it is needed right now.
Mayor Alan Harrison suggested moving further discussion onto the agenda of the next council meeting.
At a July 2016 meeting, council received a report from city staff indicating the 28 lease lots had become an administrative burden to the city, with staff having been “embroiled in prolonged and protracted disputes and discussions on a multitude of issues” including lease rates, flood construction levels and setbacks, demand for additions and redevelopment, excessive noise, non-payment of rent and legal challenges. The report noted the city’s official community plan has been calling for an end to the waterfront residential leases since 2005.