The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce is continuing calls to expand Ellison Provincial Park with the purchase of the Chelsea Estate lands.
In early July, the chamber pushed the province to secure the 234 acres of land adjacent to the park along Okanagan Lake. However, a letter from B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman indicated the acquisition is beyond the ministry’s budget, and there are other competing interests that B.C. Parks must consider.
On Thursday, Sept. 3, the chamber sent a follow-up letter to Heyman requesting an update.
“We understand limited budgets and competing priorities within the government and B.C. Parks. However, we want to reiterate that an expansion of Ellison Provincial Park would bolster tourism particularly as the sector has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Greater Vernon Chamber president Krystin Kempton said Friday.
“There is also a tremendous opportunity to protect ecological and recreational values for future generations.”
A petition for the land to be purchased has garnered more than 18,000 signatures, and the chamber said it’s prepared to work with the ministry and B.C. Parks to identify donors that can assist with the investment.
If the cost is too great, the chamber says purchasing a portion of the land would be better than nothing.
“While acquisition of the entire 234-acre Chelsea Estate is ideal to maximize the long-term benefits for the North Okanagan and province, we would ask that the government consider working with us to purchase at least a portion of the site immediately next to Ellison Provincial Park,” said Kempton.
The Chelsea Estate property is listed by Colliers International, which advertises the land as “century-old property with significant development potential in the heart of British Columbia’s Okanagan region.”