An Oyama couple working towards constructing an adventure eco-tourism facility in the hills east of Wood Lake is one step closer to opening for business this summer. Last week council approved several variances requested by Peter and Jennifer Madsen before begining construction on their Oyama Zipline Forest Adventure.
With the variances approved the Madsens are now able to construct departure towers of a sufficient height to support the engineer’s design of the ziplines, install a large sign to direct visitors to the establishment, and make a monetary contribution to the District to cover the costs of increased road maintenance on Oyama Lake Road.
Under the District’s zoning bylaw the maximum allowable building height on rural large parcel properties, such as the Madsen’s, is set at 13 metres. The variance approved last week will allow the first tower to be constructed to a height of 16.5 metres.
A sign at the entrance to the property will be scaled up from what is usually allowed as well. The variance allows a four and a half square metre sign instead of the regular one and half square metres allowed in the District’s signage bylaw.
As part of a three year temporary commercial use permit issued last November, the Madsens had already agreed to pay for additional road maintenance to mitigate the impact of increased travel on Oyama Lake Road. Last week’s variance recognizes that contribution and excuses the proponents from having to pave the road to the business.
Council consensus was in agreement with staff recommendations that the variances should be granted.
“We need to support businesses in our community,” said coun. Penny Gambell. “This is going to be very positive for Lake Country.”
An effort was made to keep all of the towers under 13 metres but the topography of the land makes the variance necessary. To minimize the impact to viewscapes, the towers will be constructed in a rustic character using wood and a green metal for a roof.
The road servicing variance was granted due to the temporary nature of the permit that Oyama Zipline Forest Adventure will be operating on for its first three years. Council decided it would be unfair to require the owners to incur the paving costs traditionally required for this type of development.
Council allowed the enlarged sign due to the potential for customers to overlook a standard sized sign as they drive the twisting roads of the rural area.
Coun. Noreen Guenther voted against the variances citing concerns from neighbors over the size of the sign and the height of the towers.
The variances granted are in effect for the duration of the temporary use permit. When the permit expires the Madsens will need to seek an extension of the permit or a rezoning of their property. At that time council will have an opportunity to review the temporary use permit and the variances and make any changes to them that are deemed necessary.