Regional district acquires Balfour beach

The Balfour beach is a step closer to becoming a regional park.

ABOVE: Balfour beach looking north from Meadow Street access. BELOW: Beach access via Meadow Street at low water.

The Balfour beach is a step closer to becoming a regional park.

The Regional District of Central Kootenay has signed a 30-year license of occupation for 3.7 hectares of undeveloped Crown land and 200 meters of shore on Kootenay Lake, east of the Balfour townsite.

“I know a lot of people are very happy with the proposal going forward but there is some consternation as well,” says regional director Ramona Faust.

“There are definitely some private land issues, so there’s still a lot of work to do now that government has approved the application.”

The original request was made in 2005, Faust explained, but the process moved slowly because the transfer required the sponsorship of a provincial ministry. There are many such applications and priority is difficult to establish on more expensive pieces, she says.

The land’s value was pegged at $1.5 million.

Faust says while the beach has long been used as a recreation area, this agreement formalizes it.

“It’s a very wild beach in a little cove and will probably stay that way,” she says. “The access is definitely rugged and by foot. It’s used by locals and probably wouldn’t have too much appeal for others.”

A statement of purpose and operations has been developed, and the next step will be a management plan, which will gather community input.

Provincial approval came through at the end of January and the regional district accepted the agreement on Thursday.

“I hope it’s a very enjoyable place for the community to go and that we can answer any concerns private land owners may have,” Faust says.

The acquisition of the land is in keeping with a policy developed a few years ago to keep pieces of foreshore for public use.

A similar license of occupation has also been approved for Waterloo Eddy in lower Ootischenia — which director Gord Zaitsoff calls remarkable in that there will soon be a park on the same land where the landfill sits.

McDonalds Landing has also been identified as a potential regional park.

Nelson mayor John Dooley cautioned, however, that if the board is willing to take on new parks, it should be prepared to fund their maintenance.

“There’s a financial ramification to going down this road. We better find the resources to manage them,” he said.

However, since Balfour beach has no infrastructure, the cost of maintenance is expected to be minimal — limited to road and trail maintenance, and hazard tree removal.

Development costs will depend on what sort of facilities residents want. Washrooms have already been identified as a priority.

The regional district expects to budget $3,000 this year for signage and boundary markers. Another $15,000 to $20,000 is needed complete the management plan.

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