The Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) board voted to take the next steps towards the creation of another community park for the South Shuswap.
In order to do so, the CSRD board advanced a plan to purchase the 9.5 acre property in Blind Bay known as Centennial Field for $2.75 million.
The field, comprised of two parcels of land located at 2690 Centennial Dr. and 2546 Blind Bay Rd., are owned by Shuswap Lake Estates Ltd. and Shuswap West Developments Ltd.
Consent from voters in the CSRD’s Electoral Area C is required to borrow $1,770,000 required to fund the land purchase. An alternative approval process (AAP) was endorsed by the board as the method for obtaining the consent of voters. Under the AAP, 10 per cent of Area C voters would have to make a formal petition opposing the proposed borrowing in order to stop it from going forward. According to the CSRD, if that 10 per cent of voters is opposed, the borrowing would not be able to proceed without holding a referendum.
Bylaws will be submitted to the Provincial Inspector of Municipalities for authorization to proceed with the alternative approval process. Authorization can take up to six weeks and, once it is received, the matter will return to the CSRD board to set the details and timeline of the AAP.
According to the CSRD, paying off the loan will cost the owners of the average residential property in Area C $48 per year based on a 25-year loan.
Regional district staff had recommended borrowing $2,025,000 to purchase the land for the park, but the board decided to use $1 million from the Area C Park Land Acquisition Reserve to keep the loan smaller. The reserve will have $100,000 remaining if it is depleted to purchase Centennial Field.
The board’s decision to opt for the less expensive loan was led by Area C Director Paul Demenok. Demenok questioned what the parks acquisition reserve is being kept for if no other acquisitions have been planned. He also noted that uncertainty created by the possibility of the incorporation of Sorrento and Blind Bay into a municipality or the division of Area C into two electoral areas played a role in his preference for the cheaper loan.
“This will be a terrific enhancement for the South Shuswap, as a regional community park in Blind Bay was clearly identified to be the number one issue in the recently approved Area C Parks Plan,” Demenok said.
He noted many people assume Centennial Field is already a CSRD park because of the Music in the Bay and Canada Day programs which use the space. He said he anticipates grants from senior levels of government could be used to fund improvements to the park.
The CSRD has pledged to work with a landscape architect to develop the park if the purchase goes through; they say this process will involve plenty of consultation with the public.
According to the CSRD, a professional appraisal of the property valued the land at $2,006,000. The appraiser noted that arriving at an accurate market value was difficult because there are no properties in the region with a similar size and features to compare it to.
The results of the AAP are expected to be reported to the CSRD board at its September or October meeting.