Penticton putting green space up for sale

Penticton City Council is considering selling off two lots that a neighbourhood considers an area park or green space.

Larry Jagger has done his best to make sure that everyone in his neighbourhood knows about a public hearing tonight.

At 6 p.m. on April 2, Penticton City Council is going to be considering the fate of two city-owned lots in Jagger’s neighbourhood, a section of green space that bisects the 500 block between Gahan and Eckhardt Avenues, forming a link in the KVR trial.

“They are looking to switch it from parkland to multi-family residential, RM-3, which means up to five stories high,” said Jagger. “In that area, number one it is strictly single-family dwellings, so having a five-story apartment or condo would be very much out of context.”

Jagger is more concerned about the loss of green space and is worried the city is interested in selling the property is to help with tight budgets. Developed properties along the Eckhardt side range from $150,000 to $200,000 in assessed value, while the Gahan side range up to $300,000.

“Selling off parkland for any reason doesn’t seem like a good idea, and if they are selling it off to balance the budget, it’s pointless, because if you can’t balance, you are going to have to keep doing that until there is nothing left to sell,” said Jagger. “I do personally hate to see them sell off land that is limited. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. We won’t have the ability to get it back to use as parkland in the future.”

City staff propose to rezone the properties so they could be sold, but maintain a 30-foot path along one side for the KVR Trail. One of the lots, 518 Eckhardt, was put up for sale in 1998, but neighbourhood requests to develop a tot-lot let the City to un-list the property. No proposals ever came forward.

“The portion of the trail that will be rezoned is currently in an unkempt state and has been for some time,” said city planner Jake Belobaba, adding that sale or development of the land will probably be some time in the future. “Most likely development or transfer of ownership of the property will not happen until neighbouring properties are included in the development.”

While strip is not a maintained park, Jagger said it is used by a wide variety of people, not just those from the neighbourhood. He said there is nothing wrong with having some unmaintained green space.

“The path is very well used. The people we spoke too like it the way it is. There wasn’t a sense that this has to be perfectly maintained,” said Jagger. “It seems a shame to limit people’s use of the trail by making it into more of a residential area than a park like setting.”

Jagger said the neighbourhood feeling is that if the land has to be sold, they want to see it as single-family residential, in line with the current style construction on the block.