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Selling Centennial Park?

The Rutland Park Society has agreed to sell Centennial Park to the City of Kelowna.

As part of a deal negotiated with the society board, the city will take over ownership of the park and receive a road extension.

The roadway would extend Shepherd Road through to Rutland Road North, utilizing what is now the driveway into Centennial Park.

Photo: Wayne Moore - Castanet
A few people against the park sale make their feelings known to those entering the meeting Monday

People against the sale pointed to the negative impact of a transit and vehicle route running through the park, and in front of the community hall.

In exchange, the city will immediately sink $800,000 into refurbishing aging Centennial Hall and, once the 2015 budget is approved, provide another $400,000 to upgrade the park itself.

On Aug 14, 62 per cent of society members voted in favour of the sale, however, because the motion constituted a special resolution, a 75 per cent majority was required to approve the sale.

The question was changed and brought back for a vote Monday at the society's Annual General meeting.

Because it was part of the AGM, a majority of 50 per cent plus one was necessary to pass approve the sale.

In the end, 71 per cent of those in attendance (155 to 63) voted yes.

"I'm not surprised by the numbers. It makes common sense and when I looked through the naysayers... they were based on their own needs for the flea market and not looking at the overall community needs," says society president, Todd Sanderson.

Other naysayers fear the city will eventually flip the park to a developer.

Sanderson told those in attendance that Centennial Park would remain a park in perpetuity as part of the agreement.

"It will also remain a park. There will not be condos, there will not be development. They won't be halving off any part of it for a development.

It will remain a park, it will remain true to what the residents who formed the park wanted it to be."

Another concern surrounded Rutland May Days, which has been held at the park the past 55 years.

Sanderson admitted the carnival rides -- which have traditionally been housed on the field -- would have to move, but says the city has agreed to allow those rides to be located in the Roxby parking lot.

He also quelled fears the Rutland Flea Market would be a casualty of the sale.

Sanderson says the flea market is taking the winter off to regroup and develop a new business plan.

He says it will return in its new location in the Roxby parking lot in the spring and expects the market to again run year round.

Sanderson says he hopes the sale is complete before the current council leaves office on Nov 15.

"I know city staff are expecting a call from me tomorrow then it's just a matter of letting the lawyers do their final touches then hopefully we'll have a cheque cut before the next council come in."

Sanderson told the assembled membership the deal was the only way to save the park and Centennial Hall.

He says the building has only about 10 years of life left in its current state and admits a good chunk of that $800,000 will go to bringing the building up to code.

"As a society our work is not done. In addition to doing that we are still going to have to fundraise. May Days is still going to have to be an integral part of what we do."

Sanderson adds the extra $400,000 will go to refurbishing the park itself.

In order to turn it into something more than a grass field, Sanderson believes the city will need to invest in the neighbourhood of $2M.

Some of those who opposed the sale were visibly upset. There are those who have vowed to keep up the fight, believing the vote to be against the Society's Act.

Sanderson says the society received legal advice before holding the vote with a simple majority requirement and believe they are on the right side of the legal issue.

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