The North Shuswap lakefront property where Kamloops businessman Mike Rink sought to build an RV resort has been sold to another developer - dashing hopes from some community members that it can be become provincial parkland.
Court documents show Cottonwoods Campground, renamed West Beach by Rink, was sold this month to a numbered company owned by Greg Darroch, an Interior developer who has done other Shuswap projects and is also involved in real estate in Las Vegas.
The property sold for $17.9 million, leaving Mission Creek Mortgage Ltd. out about $3 million in loans and interest payments it made to Rink's companies to develop a 160-unit RV park offering 199-year leases.
But those plans fell apart when Rink's companies entered creditor protection more than two years ago. Mission Creek took over the property from Rink after B.C. Supreme Court ruled the plans didn't fit with Columbia Shuswap Regional District zoning.
Darroch, who lives in Coldstream, could not be reached for comment late Tuesday.
A coalition of Shuswap groups held a benefit in April to kickstart efforts to raise money privately to purchase property for parkland. That included talks with land trusts and government officials.
The campground continued to operate under Mission Creek through a receiver-manager after Rink lost control earlier this year.
"We were just beginning to look at ways to raise money," said local conservationist Jim Cooperman, who led resistance against earlier efforts to rezone the property for a condominium and marina project.
Cooperman said he fears the new ownership will bring new development plans to a parcel that is beside the mouth of the Adams River and its renowned salmon run.
"It's obvious a campground business can't support a mortgage of that amount of money. The only way to realize that amount of money is to do some sort of development."
Documents from the land title registry show the numbered company took out a new mortgage from Mission Creek to purchase the land.
Dave Cunliffe, another Shuswap developer and president of the North Shuswap Chamber of Commerce, said Darroch is a skilled developer with experience in the Shuswap and elsewhere. Among his Shuswap projects is the Saratoga condominium complex.
"We welcome well-thought-out, orderly development on the North Shuswap. "It definitely helps boost our economy. We're waiting with great expectations to hear plans Greg has for the property."
While the land is now in the hands of the numbered company, it remains part of a legal challenge by contractors who worked at West Beach and are owed $750,000. Those include supply and electrical contractors.
Kamloops lawyer David McMillan, who represents those contractors, said a decision is expected later this year whether his clients have priority to funds set aside under the Builders Lien Act.
"The lien claimants are not yet dead and buried," McMillan said.
Cooperman said parkland proponents won't give up.
"The most suitable use is to be part of the (Roderick Haig-Brown) park," he said.