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Fruitvale reconsiders land sale to FortisBC

B.V. community group organizes petition against potential substation at Mazzochi Park
Following public opposition, Fruitvale council voted to reconsider the sale of land to FortisBC that would have made way for a new substation next to Mazzochi Park.

It was a victory of sorts for the Beaver Valley Concerned Citizens (BVCC) at Fruitvale council on Monday, April 11.

The Village of Fruitvale council voted to reconsider the sale of land to FortisBC for a proposed controversial new substation next to Mazzochi Park.

With about 40 people from the BVCC group in attendance, Coun. Vicki Fitzpatrick requested an amendment to the agenda, to bring the topic of the sale of village property to FortisBC as the first item on the agenda.

She then brought forth a motion that could effectively scuttle the location of the proposed FortisBC substation.

“I make the motion that council reconsider the sale of the parcel of land on 1705 Columbia Gardens Rd. to FortisBC,” said Fitzpatrick.

Fitzpatrick also clarified that her motion had “nothing to do with the concerned citizens of Fruitvale, nothing to do with protestations from Ali Grieve (Area A director), nothing to do with the presentation from the soccer association,” organizations that had reservations about the substation.

“So it’s unanimous, the property is not for sale,” confirmed acting Mayor Bert Kniss following the vote.

Kniss, sitting in for Mayor Steve Morissette, had explained to those present that the village could have considered the sale of the land through an in camera meeting that would have excluded public input.

“We didn’t have to take this to the citizens of Fruitvale,” said Kniss. “But it was the mayor’s (Morissette) position to be completely honest and open — he said, ‘No we have to do this, we want everyone’s opinion.’”

The village stole a bit of thunder from the B.V. citizens group by passing the motion before the delegation hearing. However, the delegation was permitted to proceed with their presentation for the public record even though council had satisfied their request.

According to the BVCC presentation, they had collected 598 signatures on their petition against the substation, with 519 from the Village of Fruitvale representing 34 per cent of the electorate.

The majority of the land that FortisBC planned to purchase is privately owned, with the village claiming about a 25 per cent portion on Columbia Gardens Road, which is used for overflow parking at the Mazzochi soccer fields.

A public meeting scheduled for March 8 had to be rescheduled after the village failed to give appropriate notice to adjacent landowners Scouts Canada as well as user groups like Beaver Valley Minor Soccer of the potential sale.

Scouts Canada, minor soccer, Beaver Valley Recreation chair and Area A director of Regional District Kootenay Boundary, Ali Grieve, as well as Montrose Mayor Mike Walsh shared their concerns about the substation in subsequent meetings.

Construction was scheduled to begin in 2024.

Read: Petition launched against new substation proposal in Fruitvale

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Jim Bailey

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