By ROY WOOD
The Desert Park Society had its request for financial support rejected by Osoyoos council this afternoon and was also cautioned about its plans for a year-round RV campground on its West Bench site.
The society asked council last month for a waiver of about $3,000 in water and sewer charges, about $280 for each of the 11 RV units. The group also sought that “consideration be given to offer a year-round resident RV campground,” according to report from community services director Gerald Davis.
In assessing the request, Davis said: “Utility services such as water and sewer should not be subsidized by the community for the benefit of an operating a business. Desert Park Exhibition Society has the ability to increase fees to offset these expenditures and remain solvent. This is an expected and normal cost of doing business.”
Councillor CJ Rhodes said exempting the Desert Society from its charges when so many other businesses are struggling could lead down a “slippery slope.”
Mayor Sue McKortoff concurred. “(They) signed the licence of occupation agreement and they have to live with it.” She said the sewer and water charges could simply be passed along to the users.
Society president Bobbie Fischer said in an interview she was “disappointed but not surprised” at the news.
On the broader issues of amending the licence of occupation to allow a permanent RV park, Davis’s report was pretty explicit: “The RV area was never meant to be an income generator as it was only to assist the operations by providing housing for staff and volunteers. … Workers ae able to stay on site at the RV area during operations.”
The property is not zoned for a resident RV park, the report said. Any plan to re-zone it would need to go through a provincial application process, since the land is granted from the Crown.
As well, there would need to be a town re-zoning process, including public hearings and council approval.
Fischer said, “I don’t know if we are in a position to seek a re-zoning … (but) without the RV income we couldn’t run the place.”