The City of Trail’s proposal to dispose of a riverfront Glenmerry lot has sparked a citizen’s group into action.
The Glenmerry Citizens Group has begun a petition process that requires 600 signatures by 4 p.m. on April 2, to stall the sale of the green space and bring the transaction to referendum.
“When this all started it was about saving our park,” said Joanne Crossman, from the citizens group.
“Once a park is gone, that’s it, we will never get that coveted green space back,” she said.
In a Letter to the Editor in today’s Trail Times, Helen Basttistella, who lives right next to the lot, questions the perception that it’s a public park.
“Has any member of the citizen’s group ever taken the time to walk through the park to the edge overlooking the river?,” she wrote.
“If they did, they would get some idea of the extent of the dumping.
“It is a convenient place for some people to dump their yard waste including discarded vegetables and fruit, rather than the free city pickup in the spring and fall. Perfect conditions for the bear problem I contend with.”
But what began as a “save our park” initiative, has grown into so much more, explained Crossman.
She is referring to the proposed adoption of bylaw 2750, which was given a first, second and third reading at the Feb. 12 Trail council meeting.
The City of Trail intends to adopt the bylaw on April 8, which will allow for the disposal of a large waterfront lot on Rosewood Drive in Glenmerry for the sum of $115,000 to just one bidder.
“I’m not a ‘front end’ kind of person, but there are so many questions I have about the process of disposal of this land.”
Additionally, no sign was ever posted on the property, nor were any neighbouring residents informed of the proposed sale of the lot.
“We read a little ad in the paper,” she said. “Only by fluke did I happen to see it in the back page classified section.”
Crossman explained that the city opted to use a notice of “alternative approval” process to notify citizens of the city’s sales agreement and intent to sell this prime piece of real estate.
This process requires the intention to enact a bylaw (sale) by publishing an ad in a local newspaper once a week for two consecutive weeks.
“If citizens allow city council to adopt this bylaw it will set a precedence which will allow this council and future councils to sell park land in any neighbourhood in the City of Trail using this same quiet process,” said Crossman.
Michelle McIsaac, corporate administrator for the City of Trail countered that the city is adhering to the Community Charter for this proposed disposition of land.
On Feb. 21 and Feb. 26, the city ran an ad in the Trail Times that outlined council’s intent to adopt a bylaw to allow the disposal of parcel located between 3650 and 3660 Rosewood Drive in Glenmerry.
McIsaac said that typically when the city decides to dispose of property, they would use a public bid process, as some people seem to be suggesting should be the case.
“However, this is not a typical property disposition,” she said.
“In the case of parkland disposal, because the bylaw may only be adopted with the approval of the electors and is subject to the alternative approval process, identifying the purchaser, the proposed use and the consideration to be received in advance was deemed important as this information may influence the elector’s thought on whether or not to petition against the bylaw’s adoption.”
The lot is over 10,500 sq. ft and on the block for $115,000.
Crossman said a 5,400 sq. ft. residential lot on Rosewood Drive is assessed at $83,500 this year.
In reference to the sale price of the land, McIsaac said that there is a difference between the market value of a property, which is the amount that would be expected on sale of a property, as compared to the assessed value of a property, which is the amount that the BC Assessment Authority determines the property to be valued at for taxation purposes.
McIsaac said that the city has no plans to sell further city-owned lots at this time.
“If surplus land is identified in the future, the city would follow necessary legal requirements as set out in the community charter.”
For more information, McIsaac can be contacted at 364-0800.
As the April deadline draws near, the Glenmerry citizens group said they would soldier on and canvass neighbourhoods to gain in excess of 600 (Trail elector) signatures on its petition.