Salmon Arm  

CSRD to buy Blind Bay park

The Columbia Shuswap Regional District Board has agreed to take the next steps towards the creation of a community park in Blind Bay by offering to purchase 9.5 acres of property known as Centennial Field for $2.75 million.

The process will now move towards obtaining the consent of voters in Electoral Area C to borrow $1,770,000 for the land purchase. The board decided to fund the park purchase through this loan and a $1 million draw from the Electoral Area C Park Land Acquisition Reserve. This will leave $100,000 in the Park Land Acquisition reserve fund.

CSRD staff had recommended the borrowing of $2,025,000 for the purchase, however, the Board, led by Electoral Area C Director Paul Demenok, voted to borrow the lesser amount. This will equate to a payment of approximately $48 per year for the average residential property in Electoral Area C based on a 25-year loan amortization.

"This will be a terrific enhancement for the South Shuswap, as a regional community park in Blind Bay was clearly identified to be the number one issue in the recently approved Area C Parks Plan," says Demenok, who notes many people assume Centennial Field is already a CSRD Park because of the Music in the Bay and Canada Day programs.

"I’m very pleased that we will be able to preserve this semi-waterfront land for future generations as a park and a green space that enhances our quality of life. There will be a robust consultation process regarding park development, and I anticipate that we will be able to utilize significant senior government grants to help fund the improvements. This park can be made into something very special and unique, and I’m looking forward to that process," said Demenok.

The CSRD retained a professional appraisal of the property which valued the two parcels of Centennial Field land at a total of $2,006,000. The appraiser notes it was difficult to arrive at an accurate market value because there were no properties in the region with similar size or features to make a comparison.

The proposed agreement is based on the land remaining for recreational purposes in perpetuity. It also involves the removal of the piece of land containing the Shuswap Lake Waterworks Building from the proposed park.

Should the purchase be completed, the CSRD will engage the services of a landscape architect consultant to create a master park plan for the property, which will include extensive public consultation.

The Alternative Approval Process was endorsed by the Board as the method to obtain the voter's consent for the loan. A total of 10 per cent of the electorate in Electoral Area C would need to make a formal petition against the proposed borrowing if they are not in support. If that 10 per cent threshold is reached, the CSRD Board would not be able to proceed without holding a full-scale referendum.

The bylaws will now be submitted to the Inspector of Municipalities for authorization to proceed with an Alternative Approval Process (AAP) in Electoral Area C, which can take up to six weeks. The item will then return to the CSRD Board to confirm the details and timeline for the Alternative Approval Process.

Once the outcome of the Alternative Approval Process is known, the results are expected to be reported to the Board at a Regular Board meeting in September or October, 2019, at which time the Board will be advised if it is able to proceed with adopting the service area and the loan authorization bylaws needed for the community park property purchase.

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