A group gets ready to head down the Columbia River, launching from the Athalmer boat launch. A large chunk of property in this area is now owned by the District of Invermere. File photo

Invermere buys Athalmer land for $5 million

Celebratory barbecue to come

The District of Invermere (DOI) is now the proud owner of the Lake Windermere Resort Lands down by James Chabot beach.

In an opinion poll in last year’s municipal election, 66 per cent of voters supported spending up to $5 million to buy the property, and that’s exactly what the final bill came to when the DOI purchased the land in September.

“We couldn’t negotiate them down any lower. That was as far as they were about to go, but that’s still going to be a great deal for that property,” said Mayor Al Miller.

“Here’s the story: We’ve done a $5 million short-term borrow for over five years through our Municipal Finance Authority. That’s a short-term borrow, which we can pay out, pay down, whatever. And so now that we’re into the planning side of the project, we’re going to start that procedure, and as we can source out funding streams or… any partnerships that we can come up with or grant funding streams, donations, et cetera, we can now pay down that $5 million, and therefore once we get to really setting out the loan for a longer term we can lower the amount by whatever we get in.”

Asked if he felt it was a risky strategy to buy the land before having other funding secured, he said: “No. Definitely I’ve got certainly a good feeling that we’re going to be able to source different granting opportunities or funding sources that’s going to help us pay down this $5 million debt, and then we’ll go for the long-term borrow on the lesser amount.”

Mayor Miller said the DOI will continue looking into possibilities to undo some of the costs to tax payers, which are estimated at $103 a year per home. He said opportunities could exist for funding from the Columbia Basin Trust and the federal or provincial governments and that generous philanthropists could still come forward. Depending on what residents want to see on the land, the DOI could also look for partners for condo or hotel development.

“This is an opportunity for the DOI to look forward into the future, and we have now secured a very important piece of property that’s going to be for the good of many future generations,” he said, adding that $5 million is “not a bad price.”

“That’s going to be the beginning of the consultation,” he said about the barbecue.

He anticipates that the consultation process on the Lake Windermere Resort Lands will run for around a year with open houses and many opportunities for residents to share their thoughts.

“We want to make sure… that we’ve got real consensus on what should be there,” he said.

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