District council voted Tuesday to ask the province to put the brakes on a zipline adventure project that could employ 15 people and attract 8,000 visitors through Peachland annually.
Zipzone Adventures Ltd. has applied through Front Counter B.C. to use a parcel of Crown land to construct and operate seven zip lines near the intersection of Brenda Mine and Headwaters Roads. The District of Peachland received a referral for the project, along with an environmental report.
“We found this report done completely unsatisfactorily,” said Dave Smith, director of planning and development services. “We found it totally insufficient.”
Coun. Terry Condon said he toured the site with operator Kevin Bennett. “He seems to think that everything he has done has met the terms of adequacy,” said Condon.
“We are the stewards of the watershed,” said Condon, who told council that he told Bennett, “A properly developed zipline out there would get the support of council.”
“I think it’s a great potential for the area,” said Coun. Peter Schierbeck, who also toured the site. “I’m very concerned about the environmental side.”
CAO Elsie Lemke said staff’s opinion was that the environmental report submitted by Bennett concentrated mostly on construction of the park and did not address ongoing environmental concerns in the watershed.
Condon noted Bennett has received a letter from the Interior Health Authority, but it deals with things such as food preparation on site and not the impact of the project on the watershed.
Council voted to have the mayor write the regional district and Front Counter BC, requesting that any decision on the project be suspended until all of Peachland’s concerns are met.
One of the top issues mandated by the district is that a full environmental assessment be conducted by a Qualified Environmental Professional.
Bennett said in a telephone interview today that it was the district that told him the environmental report should be conducted by a QEP. He said he has gone back to his consultant, who will ensure that the district’s concerns are addressed.
“We are operating in the watershed and the district is right to be concerned that we’re not going to do anything to adversely affect the water supply,” said Bennett.
“It will be a world class facility,” said Bennett. “Everything will be absolutely top notch.”
Bennett confirmed that he has an offer for a license of occupation for the zipline site. He also said, while he understands the district’s concerns, it is frustrating at times dealing with the district.
“It is sometimes a little frustrating that the district seems a little unhelpful and a little quick to say no,” said Bennett.
The zip line promoter said a similar project was recently proposed in Lake Country and that municipality dealt with the application quite differently than Peachland.
The Lake Country proposal, which could see a similar operation to Bennett’s built in Oyama, received a yes from that municipality right away, subject to appropriate reports being submitted, said Bennett. In Peachland, council voted to not support the local project right away, while adding stipulations for reports to be submitted, should the project be approved by Front Counter BC.
In short, Lake Country said yes, and reports are needed, while Peachland said no, and reports are needed.
Bennett said his business plan calls for up to 8,000 visitors to use the adventure park next year, which averages about 40 to 50 people per day.
“We will be co-marketing with other Peachland businesses,” said Bennett, who noted up to 15 people will be employed by his business.