Fintry

A view of the historic barn at Fintry Provincial Park.

A group that helps maintain a 900-acre provincial park in the Okanagan could lose its $39,000 annual funding from taxpayers.

Directors of the Central Okanagan regional district will consider a recommendation Thursday to end the annual grant to the Friends of Fintry Park. The park is located on a delta near the northwest corner of Okanagan Lake.

Regional parks officials say the group has received more than $500,000 in funding since 2004, and it's now time to sever the financial relationship.

The money could be re-directed to other parks initiatives, staff suggest.

In addition to the annual grant to the society, the regional district used taxpayer money to help the government buy properties needed to create Fintry Provincial Park in the mid-90s. Total purchase price was $7.6 million.

"After making a significant financial contribution to support acquisition of Fintry Provincial Park and then subsequently investing over $500,000 over a 15-year-period supporting Friends of Fintry Park, the parks program should refocus these funds," reads part of a report to board directors, who are Kelowna-area politicians.

The annual grant is provided to the society to help pay the salary of the group's full-time executive director and curator, Dan Bruce.

Kathy Drew, volunteer president of the society's board of directors, said Monday she received word last week the group could lose the $39,000 annual grant.

"It would be quite devastating to us, a really big blow, if they go ahead and do this," Drew said.

"We certainly hope the directors don't do this, but if they do, we'll keep going regardless," Drew said. "We'd apply for other grants to keep going. All would not be lost."

The Fintry estate was developed by Captain James Cameron Dun-Waters from Scotland, who purchased the land in 1909. He created a progressive farming operation that included its own power supply tapping a nearby waterfall, and he was active with many local service groups and philanthropic organizations.

Dun-Waters eventually sold the property for $1 to Fairbridge Farm School, a British society that trained underprivileged children to become farmers. The land went through several ownership changes before it became a provincial park.

As well as a campground and beach, the property has several historic properties including a manor house, octagonal barn, packinghouse, and a hiking trail with a 300-step staircase to the waterfall on Short's Creek.

The society helps maintain the properties, offers guided tours, and hosts various festivals. Its website says its mission is to "create an environment that allows park visitors and participants to engage in recreational and educational opportunities that develop a greater understanding of their heritage, the lifestyles of their forebears, the household and farming practices, and the skills and knowledge that sustained them."