By ROY WOOD
The consortium planning a 49-room bunkhouse for tourism industry employees faces a couple of major obstacles in its quest for an $80,000 contribution from the town of Osoyoos.
The Osoyoos Employee Housing Society (OEHS) is a non-profit society started by major local tourism businesses for the purpose of creating a place for employees to live, particularly during the busy summer tourist season.
Members of the society – the Watermark, Spirit Ridge and others – have put together about $125,000 for start-up costs. Group spokesman Daniel Bibby appeared before council this morning asking that the town provide free water and sewer hook-ups for the facility.
Town chief administrative officer Barry Romanko said in an interview this afternoon the town would forgo about $80,000 in hook-up fees if it accedes to the request.
However, Romanko said the town may be prohibited from agreeing to the request. He said the Community Charter – the provincial act that sets the rules for how municipalities operate – generally prohibits towns from giving subsidies to businesses.
He said even though OEHS is set up as a non-profit society, it does benefit the businesses that operate it. “I’ll have to seek legal advice.”
OEHS has secured a site for the camp on the Kalkat orchard west of 45th Street and north of Highway 3. It will include 49 bedrooms, male and female washrooms, laundry facilities and a gathering area for residents. There will be an on-site manager.
A second problem facing the project, said Romanko, is that there is a “no-build covenant” on the proposed site that was negotiated between the town and the Osoyoos Indian Band (OIB). He said there will need to be discussions with the OIB.
The operating costs of the camp will be paid from rent income. The plans call for rents of about $425 per month including utilities. Rooms will be available only to employees of the members of the OEHS.
After hearing the request from the society this morning, council instructed staff to look at the issues and report back.