Forgotten Hill Bed & Breakfast

+1 250-496-5600

Naramata, B.C

For a relatively short road, it’s been a long road

The first step in improving Cottonwood Lane, a proper base for the asphalt.

Returning guests who haven’t read this article are going to be in for a nice surprise: Cottonwood Lane has finally been paved. It didn’t happen quickly, not by a long shot.

Let’s put this news in context.

We purchased the property in October 2003, in the aftermath of the Okanagan Mountain fire. Hundreds of acres in this area had been logged on and off, since the 1920s. We purchased this block of 148 acres (59.89 hectares) from a Numbered British Columbia company based in Okanagan Falls, a company that had been actively logging it and literally trashing in the “process”.

That logging company, however, was the third or fourth owner of the parcel since it was created by surveyors late in the 19th century, when land was “taken” and parceled off for sale by the government. Soon thereafter, the building of the Kettle Valley Railway (KVR) expropriated 12 acres from the original 160-acre parcel on the southwest side, leaving it with an irregular shape.

How we ended up purchasing the property is story better left to another story. What we can say is that we found the Okanagan weather, and the way the region was developing appealing. Also, a factor was the fact that it was just a little over a four-hour drive from our home in North Vancouver and a lot easier and simpler to deal with than vacations in Canada, the US, or India and France.

When visiting the South Okanagan over a number of weekends, we looked at some listings, some with a house, some just bare land. On one visit, our realtor insisted on showing us a large parcel of land. It turned out to be a 148-acre property, labelled as “Large Holding” by the Regional District. While the property was unfenced, in a sorry shape, and used by locals and others as if it was Crown Land, but the views it offered were nothing short of magical. We were smitten.

No more rocks and dust!

Access to the property was very limited and very rough. Indeed, arriving at Smethurst Place, below the KVR parking the pavement ended. The road turned to dust and loose rocks. Proceeding further up required getting past a rudimentary cattleguard consisting of large tubes, and up a very rough road identified as the Naramata Creek Forest Service  road. Today the only remnants of that period are amusing signs showing a lady moose and a lady elk, along with signage indicating a no-longer used CB radio frequency for the logging trucks that no longer use the road.

Paving finished on Tuesday April 23, 2024.

Before purchasing the property, we did our due diligence. Inspecting the cadastral maps, we soon discovered that the property was not land locked, as there was an unnamed road leading up to it from Smethurst Road. In addition, we discovered that the Naramata Creek Forest Service Road did not start immediately past the KVR parking lot where the sign was, but quite a way further up, well past the unnamed road that accessed the property.

Back in North Vancouver, having gathered all this information made us, feel more confident about making an offer on the land. And after some back and forth, we had a deal.

It was only the next morning that it dawned on us that we’d just purchased 148 acres of raw land, an area almost as large as the entire Blueridge neighbourhood we lived in at the time.

Over the last 20 years we have been instrumental for having the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure (MoTI) replace the old cattleguard for a car-friendly version and naming Cottonwood Lane. We also lobbied both MoTI and the road maintenance contractor for years to have both the upper part of Smethurst Road and Cottonwood Lane maintained regularly and install proper signage. Then building the cottage in 2005-2006 we had power, telephone, cable, and more recently fibreoptic brought up to the property.

Pushing to have these two roads maintained and eventually paved required hundreds of emails, appeals to the local MLA which included a video showing the sorry state of the roads to absolutely no effect. (See the video on YouTube).

What made the difference was the advent of a new road contractor, and in particular a talented young woman that was able to see the money that was being wasted by maintaining unmaintainable roads. The first step was to pave the upper part of Smethurst in 2018, and now paving Cottonwood Lane.

Interestingly, not only did that young woman manage to budget for the improvement of both Smethurst Road and Cottonwood Lane, but she eventually replaced the Ministry man that had mostly been ineffective for so many years.