Diamond Mountain

After blocking a 1,000-home development plan for Diamond Mountain, the City of Kelowna has purchased the 74 hectares south of the Kelowna dump for $11.9 million.

The City of Kelowna is now the owner of 74 hectares of land it decided wasn’t suitable for development because the property is near the city dump.

Last March, the city denied Troika Developments’ proposal to build a 1,000-home, master-planned community east of Glenmore Road and south of John Hindle Drive, saying it was too close to the landfill.

In possession of 74 hectares it couldn’t do anything with, Troika, the joint-venture partner with landowners Len and Marlene Tonn, approached the city unsolicited to unload the property.

This week, the deal was finalized and the city purchased the parcel just south of the dump for $11.9 million.

“After being approached, we discussed it internally and did our due diligence and decided to acquire the land as a buffer to the landfill’s potential dust, noise and odour,” said the city’s director of strategic investments, Johannes Saufferer.

“We paid what is considered fair market value. It will simply be a buffer. There will be no public access to the land and it won’t become part of landfill operations.”

The city also has buffer zones to the north, east and west of the dump, so this latest purchase completes the surround.

Money from the city’s landfill reserves was used for the purchase, so property taxes won’t go up to cover the transaction.

The land was previously owned by the Tonns, their son and his family, and supported a cattle and hay operation.

They entered a joint-venture contract with Renee Wasylyk of Troika Developments to realize the vision of Diamond Mountain.

While initially supportive, the city changed its mind after a nuisance report suggested noise, dust and odour from the dump may annoy future residents of Diamond Mountain.

That could have resulted in not only complaints from residents, but lawsuits that could force the city to spend big money on landfill retrofits or even close the dump years earlier than planned.

Wasylyk claimed Diamond Mountain was far enough away from the dump and the city was being overzealous.

“I wanted to keep working on a solution,” Wasylyk told The Okanagan Weekend on Friday.

“But I won’t be able to make Diamond Mountain happen. The landowners wanted to move on, so the land was sold. I’m heartbroken for them because the dream of Diamond Mountain won’t be realized. It leaves me out in the cold (financially), but that’s OK. I’m not one to live in the past. I want to move onward and upward.”

That includes continuing to develop communities, as Troika has been doing for years with the likes of West Harbour and Green Square.

Wasylyk also is seeking the Conservative nomination in the Kelowna-Lake Country riding to run for MP in the next federal election, in October.

And she is lobbying for modernization of the Kelowna landfill.

“Burying garbage is so yesterday,” she said.

“Kelowna needs to be utilizing waste as an energy source to create electricity. It’s already being done in the Lower Mainland and all over Europe. UBC Okanagan, which is in closer proximity to the landfill than Diamond Mountain would have been, has eight waste energy experts who can help.”

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