The Columbia Shuswap Regional District has ended discussion on the possible purchase of Centennial Park – at least for now.
The regional district has previously had some negotiations with Shuswap Lake Estates Ltd., owner of the park that is used for many South Shuswap community events.
The negotiations were “related to a potential purchase price for evaluation purposes on the 2690 Centennial Drive property, for consideration of the property for potential park use,” said a Sept. 10 CSRD news release that deemed the negotiations unsuccessful. “It is possible that a future regional board may wish to consider acquisition of the property for community use, but for the time being this matter is closed.”
Chief administrative officer Charles Hamilton said the board authorized staff to have discussions with Shuswap Lake Estates for price and suitability only.
“We had it appraised, hired a land agent to do preliminary discussions and exchanged correspondence with Shuswap Lake Estates regarding the possibility of acquiring lands,” Hamilton said. “What became clear was there seems to be another objective that involves the realignment of Blind Bay Road and then the creation of an area of potential parkland along the waterfront.”
Hamilton says what had begun as a discussion about Centennial Park became much more complex.
“We hadn’t contemplated a road realignment so I went to the board with some of these concerns,” Hamilton says.
CSRD chair David Raven says the board met in camera in August and decided too many factors were coming into play and agreed to ask for a cooling-off period.
“The whole matter started off trying to do a good thing and became complex and confusing for everybody, so the logical conclusion was to stop what we are doing and open the door for a simple negotiation process – if they want to proceed in the future.”
Raven said issues need to be dealt with one at a time, and questions addressed about whether there is value for money.
“Being chair, I look for integrity of decision and process, compliance with law and transparent good government, rather than interfere with the actual decision making.”
Hamilton, meanwhile, says he was somewhat surprised when Shuswap Lake Estates owners Jack and Terry Barker arrived at a public hearing on recreation in the South Shuswap Aug. 13 with a poster detailing plans for the waterfront park and road relocation and a request to present their plans to the audience of some 60 people.
Marcin Pachcinski, CSRD’s Parks and Recreation team leader, says Jack Barker was given the opportunity to speak because the format of the meeting was to obtain public input.
“CSRD parks staff see potential park value in Centennial Field as it is, because it is flat, situated close to many Blind Bay residences, already used for community gatherings and has potential to accommodate park structures,” says Pachcinski. “We feel the value is in the existing piece of land and where it is situated, so there is no need for road realignment.”
Asked to respond to CSRD’s decision to close discussion, Terry Barker said he was unaware of the decision, would have to look into the matter and had no comment at this time.
But people who have ideas about the park are welcome to express them at three Electoral Area C meetings scheduled for next week.
“We’re holding recreational meetings basically to get input from residents on current recreational uses and where they would like us to focus parks dollars in the future,” says Pachcinski.
Those meetings will be held at 7 p.m. at Sorrento Memorial Hall on Tuesday, Sept. 16, Eagle Bay Community Hall on Sept. 17 and White Lake Community Hall on Sept. 18.