The developer of a proposed residential resort in Malakwa is speaking up about the site’s affordable, co-operative living intentions.
At the June 15 Columbia Shuswap Regional District board meeting, a proposal for a residential development on an industrial property at 3410 Oxbow Frontage Rd. in Malakwa was given second reading, despite staff’s recommendation to deny the motion. The realtor working with the developer, Joy Willett, said the planner kept referring to the project as a “resort,” when it’s been explained it’s a park with housing that prioritizes co-operative living and sharing, with resort living as a secondary value.
“It’s Hyde Park with resort living,” she said. “You think laid back lifestyle, just relaxing, but a co-operative is all about sharing in everything.”
Willett said some people may be hesitant to the idea of a co-operative living system because they don’t understand it. She explained most co-ops are non-profits and offer a way for individuals and families to own homes more affordably in the long run and live in a community-focused space operating under the provincial and federal organizations Co-operative Housing Federation (CHF) BC and CHF Canada.
Willett was the realtor for the same developer when she worked on MaraHills Golf Resort (formerly Hyde Mountain). She said the idea for the co-op came after trying to find other ways to use the Malakwa property that had been sitting mostly empty for nearly 15 years.
When the developer purchased the site in 2021, there was no intention to try to rezone it or change the official community plan (OCP), Willett said, as they’d had enough experience dealing with the process with the golf course project. In March 2022, the developer tried to have a log pulp storage and chipper operation on the property, but was told there was no money in that based on the location and distance from pulp mills. Next, he tried to meet with gravel companies to no avail, was told the site was too far from shipping centres to start a trucking operation for trailer reloads or freight systems, and not close to enough to city centres for warehousing goods. Manufacturing plans also failed because of a lack of labourers and affordable places for them to live.
In May 2022, the plans for Hyde Park Resort Living began to take shape, said Willett.
The proposal includes 56 long-term living sites with 100-amp service, 28 park model sites for seasonal dwelling and 28 overnight campground spots with eight or 10 cabins available. There are plans for boat and RV storage, pickleball courts and a store, said Willett. Additionally, there’s a possibility of a biomass facility that would use debris from the neighbouring sawmill and log home builders to heat the pool, keeping costs down and being environmentally friendly, noted Willett. A possible biocell system for the septic field would take grey water and turn it into irrigation-quality water.
Willett disagreed with the reasons the CSRD planner gave for recommending the zoning and OCP amendments be denied.
Firstly, noise complaints were a concern. Willett noted plans to put a five-foot berm along both sides of the property to mitigate the sawmill and log home builders’ noise, and an additional six-foot fence on top. She added businesses would not be running at night and it would be no different than building homes near a railroad track, airport or under a flight path. While business owners have stated concern about being asked to shut down or reduce operations, Willett assured a contract is being drafted that every home buyer would sign, agreeing to awareness that Hyde Park is near commercial and industrial business and there will be noise at times.
The planner’s second reason was the limited industrial property in the area and potential negative impacts to the economy. Willett questioned how there could be negative impact if the property has been sitting empty with no growth or development for 15 years.
In response to comments about high density of residential properties outside the Malakwa village centre, Willett said the additional traffic from Hyde Park will not impede on current property owners and Malakwa will benefit from the development without added wear on its central roads and hydro lines.
Lastly, the planner noted the CSRD and the OCP does not support new shared interest developments, but Willett reiterated that although the regional district may not support co-operatives, the provincial and federal governments do through CHF BC and CHF Canada, which are “actively looking and promoting shared co-operatives to help with the current housing shortage.”
“Co-ops build strong, healthy communities,” said Willett. “They create opportunities for the people of all ages, income and backgrounds to live together in a safe and positive environment. There are many co-operatives in the Okanagan Shuswap area: Caravans West, Swan Lake RV Resort, Blind Bay Resort, just to name a few.”
The developer is looking into financing options to assist buyers, as well as government funding.
A public information meeting is scheduled for Aug. 9 at 6:30 p.m. at the Malakwa Learning Academy for anyone who is interested in learning more or has questions or concerns about the proposed co-operative development.