Some things just need to be said...

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


I was passed this email from the Simpson family and thought it needed to be put out for all to see.

The current Kelowna city council is trying to sell some of the Simpson lands to a private developer. The email below explains why this should not be allowed...

Currently Sharon Sheperd, Brad Dunlop and Dave Porteous agree to keeping to the Simpson Covenant. Others running for council may or may not agree, you need to find out who does. I will post more info here when I learn of their positions. It may well be safe to say that the current City Council with the exception of Sharon Sheperd support selling the land.

Here is the email...


As the civic election moves into full swing, the Simpson Covenant – or as it is sometimes called, “the Sawmill Covenant” – or the “Civic Centre Covenant”– is no where in sight.

As candidates sort out their platforms and their positions on various community issues, surely one of the most important questions that needs to be asked of each candidate is:


Is the current City Council hoping the issue will disappear? Where are those who have already declared they believe that the terms of the Covenant must be honoured and adhered to?

The Covenant deals with lands at the heart of our civic centre as well as one of the very few remaining open vistas of Okanagan Lake in downtown Kelowna.

The land bounded by Doyle Avenue to the North, Ellis Street to the East, Queensway Avenue to the South, and Okanagan Lake to the West (the area bounded by the red line – or solid line – on the attached map) are the lands identified as the Simpson Covenant. The total amount of land involved is 11.7 acres.

Stanley M. Simpson, through his company, The Kelowna Sawmill, offered this land to the City of Kelowna at a very favourable and below market-value price because he placed certain restrictions on the future use of these lands. These conditions were agreed upon by Mayor G. G. MacKay when he negotiated with Simpson and later, Mayor Jim Pettigrew who signed the documents in 1946, and their respective Councils.

The covenants attached to the terms of sale clearly specify that:

1. The lands in question shall ONLY be used for municipal purposes.

2. This land will not AT ANY TIME be sold.

3. And, this land will not AT ANY TIME be used for commercial or industrial purposes.

The City Council of the day wanted to be sure the community clearly understood the terms of the agreement and on May 17, 1945 took the issue to referendum to approve the expenditure of $30,000 for the 7.52 acres bounded by Water St and Ellis and Doyle and Mill (now Queensway) AND an additional $25,000 to purchase the 4.2 acres of land adjacent to the lakeshore. The restrictions on the use of the land were clearly explained to the community and over 90% of the voters supported the purchase of land that would be held, in perpetuity, for the use and enjoyment of the citizens of Kelowna.

A few months later, the electors approved of spending an additional $60,000 to purchase about 9 lots on the north side of Mill Avenue that were adjoining the new civic centre property.

The disparity in the prices of the “about” 9 commercial lots for $60,000 to add to the 11.7 ACRES of land purchased from the Kelowna Sawmill for $55,000 underscores the clearly advantageous price the city paid to Mr. Simpson for the larger parcel of land.

The mayors, council, and citizen’s of the day clearly understood these lands were to be used for municipal purposes. Discussions centered around a new city hall, the Memorial Arena was built in 1948, a curling club, an art gallery, a public health centre, and the museum have all been built on these lands, though some have since been demolished. Kasaugi Gardens has subsequently been added to the site.

In 1949, the City of Kelowna entered into an agreement with the provincial government to build a court house adjacent to the lakeshore on the civic centre properties. Although discussions involved Stanley Simpson, it is understood he was not happy with the prospect of the view of city hall being blocked from the water, but subsequently agreed to a transfer of land whereby the provincial government obtained land opposite city hall in exchange for provincial land to the south of what is now the parking lot at the end of Queensway. (These lands are identified on the attached map in orange – or dotted line – and are covered in Bylaw 1449)

Because they had changed the terms of the land use agreement with Simpson, the city agreed to certain restrictions upon this exchanged land – essentially the restrictions were the same as those that had been placed on the civic centre lands – namely that this land would not be used for commercial purposes and would NEVER be sold.

In 2004, the City of Kelowna entered into negotiations with a developer to sell a portion of the land which is included within the area defined by the Simpson Covenant and the exchanged land designated in Bylaw 1449. The agreement was subject to certain conditions one of which was that the “city was responsible for negotiating with the Simpson family to amend the covenant to allow the proposed development to proceed.”

The Simpson family has, to date, refused to agree to amend the covenant believing that Stanley Simpson sold these land to the city in good faith. He was a man of his word and he expected that subsequent mayors and councils would honour the agreement he made with their predecessors.
The Simpson family has no vested interest in these lands and strongly believe the civic centre lands were purchased by and for the citizens of Kelowna and are ONLY held in trust by the Corporation of the City of Kelowna. We do not believe this or any other council has the right to ignore or dismiss the legally registered covenant and sell the land or use it for purposes other that what was originally agreed upon.

Further, we believe the spirit and intent of the original agreement was to maintain these lands in public ownership in a manner that they would be available, FOR ALL TIME, for the use and enjoyment of the citizens of this community.

We also believe that the various arguments offered by the current mayor, council and city staff to suggest that “times have changed” and the covenant is no longer valid are patently unacceptable. We believe the Mayor and Council – either existing or in the future – are both legally and morally bound to honour and respect the terms of the covenant as it was originally agreed upon by their successors and supported by the electorate of the day.

We also strongly believe that the citizens of this community must know where each of the candidates running in this upcoming election stands on this issue – and then must vote for those who are prepared to obey the law and feel morally bound to respect the vision of the founders of this community and in doing so, respect its heritage – and the Simpson Covenant which is part of our history.

For further information please contact Sharron Simpson at 860.6525 or Tom Smithwick at 763.7646 or Suzanne Mitchell at 868.2828

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