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Muriel Baxter site may become dog park

The old Muriel Baxter School property may become an off-leash dog park if discussions with School District 5 work out.

Council passed recommendations from the Wellness and Heritage Committee at the Monday, June 9, meeting. The first of the four was to enter into formal discussions with the school district.

"From my perspective it's great to see the move towards the old Muriel Baxter Elementary School," Mayor Wayne Stetski said.

Stetski said city staff and school district staff are working on discussions for the property. He credited Superintendent Lynn Hauptman for being open to discussions.

"Hopefully we'll get there," Stetski said. "This seems to be a great place to do this."

Coun. Diana J. Scott was on board for the dog park.

"That is the perfect site," she said. "It's very central and I think a lot of people would be in favour of it."

Scott said she agreed with the second recommendation as well — to reallocate funds for fencing of an off-leash area at Moir Centennial Athletic Park to any improvements needed for the Muriel Baxter site.

Scott said she disagreed with number three. The committee recommended that the city establish three community health priorities. The first to provide accessible recreation opportunities to promote lifelong active living; the second to educate and inform the community on the variety of health, wellness and support services available; and third to support food security and local food production initiatives.

"I kind of think we do that," Scott said, noting the many recreation venues in the city. She said the city also educates the public on those venues and services.

In terms of food security and local food production, she said the city is also doing a good job with that in terms of the Community Produce Garden and the Cranbrook Farmers' Market.

Scott had concerns about the role of committees in general.

"Do we want the committees to sort of tell council what the priorities are, or do we want council to say this is what we would like you to concentrate on?" she said.

"We want excited committees, we want to have ideas and a progressive city, but at the same time I think we have to be careful about planning to take on too much."

Coun. Denise Pallesen said the third recommendation would be better served by community groups getting a hold of them.

"The city is supposed to be looking after land, legal and labour," she said. "That's our priorities."

Coun. Gerry Warner disagreed, saying while the city may do a good job of promoting food security now and recreation facilities now, it may not always be that way. He also noted the Salvation Army makes breakfast for 150 schoolchildren on school days, and two of the city's tennis courts are not in playable shape.

"The role of the committee isn't to reinvent the wheel, it's to see that it keeps rolling properly," he said.

CAO Wayne Staudt clarified that the item was referred by council through the committee. He said that Coun. Warner was correct, the city was already doing a lot of the things and the items were chosen to show that the city is working together with Interior Health to make a better community.

The fourth recommendation was a request to have council further direct the committee to identify action opportunities for the future within each of the other recommendations.

A motion to remove the third and fourth recommendations was voted down. The original motion was carried, and opposed by councillors Scott and Pallesen.

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