Parking plan

A 35-stall parking lot should be permitted in the yellow-shaded area to ease congestion around the Barona Beach Resort in West Kelowna, city councillors say, despite the land being zoned for farming.

Owners at a Westside waterfront resort want to park vehicles and boats on farmland.

Representatives of the Barona Beach strata council will ask West Kelowna city councillors on Tuesday to endorse their plans to convert nearby land designated for agriculture to use as a 35-stall overflow parking area.

“This is in no way for financial gain,” strata president Kevin Spiess says. “We are simply trying to better our . . . community.”

The proposed parking site off Pritchard Drive would alleviate chronic traffic and congestion problems at the resort and in the surrounding neighbourhood, Spiess says.

But city staff, the Ministry of Agriculture and Interior Health all oppose the request.

They note the proposed 0.2-hectare parking site immediately north of the resort is within the Agricultural Land Reserve and say allowing storage of vehicles there would undermine the property’s farming potential.

“A key consideration (is) to ensure that valuable agricultural lands, which could otherwise be utilized for the production of farm products, are preserved,” city staff write in a report to council.

Built about 15 years ago, the Barona Beach Resort has sufficient parking, city staff say.

The proposed overflow, visitor parking site is actually owned by Donnie and Jeffrey Naka, who farm in the area.

The Nakas support Barona Beach’s application for the parking lot, saying farming hasn’t occurred on that part of their property since well before 1972, when the Agricultural Land Reserve was established.

Council’s decision on whether to allow use of the farmland for parking is only advisory in nature. The final decision rests with the Agricultural Land Commission.