A number of questions have been raised regarding the proposed purchase of Centennial Field. In this article, the third in a three-part series, I will provide answers to the most common questions. A public meeting will be held on Sept. 12, 6 to 8 p.m. at the Shuswap Lake Estates Lodge where all questions may be addressed.
Q. Why would you pay anything, we’re getting to use this land for free now?
A. The Barker family has allowed us to use this land for free for the last 34 years for Canada Day and many other events, and we should thank them for that. It is not reasonable or fair to expect that this gratuity to our community will continue in perpetuity; we have already enjoyed a long free ride. We now see that Shuswap Lake Estates is disposing of some of their assets and this is a timely opportunity to ensure that this land will remain as parkland.
Q. Our taxes are already high and you’re adding more.
A. We work very hard to keep tax increases as low as possible for Area C residents, and the history over the last seven years attests to that. In my opinion, this parkland purchase will be a good investment in our community that will more than offset the costs. It has been demonstrated in a number of studies that community parks increase local real estate values by anywhere from five to 20 per cent. As a taxpayer on a limited income myself, I carefully considered the costs and believe that this investment will return dividends for years to come. I also considered the immediate costs and benefits. Right now, this field is used for Canada Day and Music in the Bay; for these 10 events alone, I’m quite comfortable in paying $5 a throw to use this property. That’s really quite inexpensive for live music and entertainment. It is unfortunate that grants cannot be used to finance land acquisition, otherwise we would do so. Grants can be used to finance park development however, and we have every intention to do that.
Q. Well, what about the Sorrento-Blind Bay park, why do we need another park?
A. A very nice park is located in Sorrento about 10 to 12 kilometres away from Blind Bay. While Blind Bay is in the name, in reality, it is not a community park located in Blind Bay. To use it, people from Blind Bay have to get in a car and drive, and that to a great extent defeats a key purpose of a community park, like getting out and walking. During the development of the Area C Parks Plan, this idea was discussed, but was discarded as not being a way to properly provide a park service to Blind Bay residents.
Q. What about the costs to develop this park, and what is going in the park?
A. Gas Tax grant funds have been earmarked to finance the community consultation process on the development of the new park and that process will likely take a year to complete. We anticipate that much, if not all, of the development costs will be covered through the use of various grant funds. Please note that the park development consultation process will include the land on the lake side of Blind Bay Road. This is also consistent with the Area C Parks Plan which recommended, “Develop a boardwalk, community pier, search and rescue dock from Pebble Beach to Centennial Drive.” There could be something done that’s very special in this area. Certainly, this area is not particularly attractive at the moment, and does not reflect positively on our community.
-Paul Demenok is the Area C Director for the Columbia Shuswap Regional District