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Kelowna has too much parkland, not enough cash to open them

One of the trails at Mill Creek Regional Park in Kelowna.
Image Credit: Google Maps
March 08, 2016 - 7:00 PM

DEVELOPERS PAY FOR PARKLAND BUT BALK AT PAYING FOR DEVELOPMENT

KELOWNA - When it comes to parkland, city councillor Luke Stack says Kelowna’s reach has always exceeded its grasp.

“It’s been an ongoing problem, we buy the land but we never seem to have quite enough money to construct the parks,” Stack says.

A move a few years ago to add a park development cost charge on top of other fees got 'huge pushback' from the development community and was dropped, Stack says.

He points to DeHart Park, or rather the promise to develop a park on land purchased in 2009 (it’s currently listed as a community garden on the city’s website).

“People have been waiting a long time for that park.”

Stack and other councillors are questioning the need to spend three times as much on parkland acquistion over the next 15 years, more than $105 million, as the $35 million to be spent developing them.

Park planner Robert Parlane says the city has at least a dozen parcels of land acquired for parks — from smaller neighbourhood parks to some larger parcels with community park potential — awaiting development.

“We try to prioritize the properties that are going to get the most use, so closer to urban centres, focusing on where the greatest needs are,” Parlane says.

Glenmore Recreation Park and DeHart Park in the Mission are next up for development in the city’s infrastructure plan, but still have some funding uncertainty around them and are currently listed in Kelowna’s 2030 infrastructure plan as unfunded and unlikely to be complete before 2030.

That is almost certain to change as federal and provincial grant money becomes available over the next few years but unconfirmed grant money is not considered during the budgeting process.

Infrastructure planning manager Joel Shaw says the city, at this point, has no plans to bring back the much-loathed parks development charge, although it is within its right to do so.

“They had no interest in it. They feel they pay for parkland acquisition, why should they pay for development?” Shaw says, adding. “There’s a balance here in support of the development community."

To contact a reporter for this story, email John McDonald at jmcdonald@infonews.ca or call 250-808-0143. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016
InfoTel News Ltd

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