St. Mary Lake Regional Park will soon become the newest park in the RDEK following a new agreement between the local government and a private property owner.
“St. Mary Lake is a beautiful and popular recreation spot for residents and visitors and I am so pleased that we have been able to reach an agreement with the property owner to allow for continued public use of this area,” says RDEK Electoral Area E Director Jane Walter.
The property, which is located on the east end of St. Mary Lake, was sold by Tembec to Mt. Evans Land Company Ltd. in 2017. Prior to the sale, the land had been rezoned to permit some residential subdivision with the condition that no subdivision could occur unless the landowner created a six-hectare park and transferred it to the RDEK. With no plans to subdivide the land in the near future, the private property owner offered to enter into an agreement that would allow the public to continue to have access to the lake.
“Mt. Evans Land Company Ltd. is very pleased to be working with the RDEK on the development of an official park on Mt. Evans owned land in the south east corner of St. Mary Lake,” say the Bronson and Jenks families, who own the property. “The formation of this RDEK park represents a great opportunity for local residents and tourists to enjoy the natural beauty of St. Mary Lake and the St. Mary River while protecting the shoreline for future generations.”
While the land remains the property of Mt. Evans Land Company Ltd., the Licence of Occupation permits the RDEK to operate the designated area as a day-use public park with rules consistent with other RDEK park facilities. Over time, it is anticipated the RDEK will make some modest improvements to the park to enhance the visitor experience and to protect the shoreline.
“We are grateful to Mt. Evans Land Co for their partnership and willingness to find a way to maintain public access to the Lake,” adds Walter. “This new agreement provides certainty to access issues on the lake and we are excited to see the Park officially open this summer.”
The boundary of the park will be clearly marked and the remainder of the property will remain private and closed to public access. Should the land be subdivided in the future, the terms outlined in the covenant established during the rezoning process would still apply and the land would be formally transferred to the RDEK.
– From the Regional District of East Kootenay