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Politicians frittering away 'golden opportunity' along Puntledge River
Every so often a community has a golden opportunity.
The Comox Valley is in the position to realize one now.
What if I told you that the Comox Valley has an opportunity to secure 185 acres of riverfront property complete with many swimming holes, cross-country bike paths and walking trails. In addition, the acquisition would preclude private development from closing off riverfront access to the public, access that the public has enjoyed for years.
This access was always on private forestry land that has since been sold by the forestry company as no longer viable to them. We have the opportunity to gain this beautiful parkland at no cost to the taxpayer.
Now I am sure you realize that I am talking about the land along the Puntledge River including Stotan Falls.
The present owner is prepared to give up this fantastic riverfront parkland, a jewel of a park with no rival in the Valley.
The only consideration the owner is asking for is the rezoning of the non-riverfront property to develop a very green, small acreage subdivision with a small commercial centre to service the needs of those residential owners. A subdivision completely serviced and paid for by the developer.
What do you say is the problem?
The problem is a document developed by the local politicians, both municipal and regional, called the Regional Growth Strategy.
It is not so much the document but how it is being used. The strategy was developed with a five-year review but a provision to amend it during that five-year period or any other five-year period if it was renewed.
This amendment provision was to allow for major or minor amendments that may be required during the life of the RGS. I would think that this opportunity to receive a 185-acre riverfront park free of cost would justify considering an amendment to the RGS supporting the property owner's proposal.
Unfortunately, some politicians are having a hard time seeing the benefits of the riverfront park over their loss of control on which areas in the Comox Valley get developed.
I would unhesitatingly say that if you took a look at what would be in the Valley's best interest (politicians surely should consider this as well), the gaining of this parkland would rank right up there as a No. 1 priority.
There are two issues here — a rezoning of land and the securing of a 125-acre riverfront park. I believe the acquisition of the park should take precedence over the rezoning of some land.
This Valley will continue to grow and require more parkland. Please think about whether this park should be added to the Valley for all of us to enjoy it or stay in private hands.
As I said, this is a once-in-a-lifetime golden opportunity for the Valley — let's not lose it.
J. Murray Presley,