More than 150 residents attended an open house over a potential city land deal.
The proposed deal would see the South Hills Neighbourhood end up with two parks instead of one. The proposal will see the subdivision of land, located on Quesnel-Hydraulic Road, create a 1.44 acre park and the remaining 3.29 acres be zoned as Country Residential 1 for future low Density Single Family Dwelling Residential development.
The 3.29 acres will be exchanged for a 6.56 acre Dragon Lake waterfront/wetlands property, located on Red Wing Road/Quesnel Hydraulic Road.
This property would receive minimal development as this land is located in an ecological environmental sensitivity area.
It would also allow a possible opportunity to create an accessible wheelchair boardwalk to the Dragon Lake waterfront. A number of residents were against the proposal and local resident Ryan Campbell voiced his opposition.
“If the city wants to protect the wetlands then the city should,” Campbell said.
“They should not put the cost on South Hills because we don’t have a park and every neighbourhood in the city does. We also don’t want to lose the wetlands either, but at the same time there has to be a better way.”
Mayor Bob Simpson referenced the Master Parks Plan that recommended developing a low maintenance neighbourhood park in South Hills, which would continue to meet the recommendation provided by the plan and also obtain additional low maintenance green space that will meet environmental stewardship objectives.
“If you read the Masters Parks Plan it points out that our community has four times more parkspace/greenspace than any other community in B.C. of our size,” Simpson said.
“All your council has done is take a look at a whole range of strategic initiatives in trying to figure out how to actually act on them, including the number one thing that came out of the Masters Park Plan which is the development of the South Hills park.”
The landowner of the potential exchange Dr. Quinton Finkelstein spoke at the meeting about the way he has been treated by some of the residents and asked those to be more considerate and thoughtful as they go through the process.
“I do not want to become a target of which I’ve already become,” Finkelstein said.
There was also a petition opposing the land exchange which currently has around 200 names on it.
Before the end of the meeting residents wanted to hear what council took out of the open house.
“Clearly what we’ve heard tonight from the dialogue from this meeting is that there is a desire to keep the entire area,” Simpson said.
“The wetland is an area that needs some attention and that there is some options and opportunities for us. Too me that is what will be reflected in the report coming forward to council.”
The next steps will see staff put together a report for City Council to review at the next meeting, which will be based on what was heard at the meeting as well as responses to the questionnaire that was handed out.