Committee concerned about sale process

The committee for green space and justice is very concerned about the city’s proposal to dispose of Rosewood Park.

The committee for green space and justice is very concerned about the city’s proposal to dispose of Rosewood Park.  While we acknowledge that the city has followed a legal process, the documents that we received under the Freedom of Information Act strongly indicate a sale that does not appear to be in the best interests of the city and the process has created uncertainty for the citizens of Trail.  We also question why the Committee of the Whole minutes are being deprived from the public’s eyes.

A city memo dated October 19, 2011 from the corporate administrator to the city manager states that it is suggested that the property could be made available to the highest bidders through a public bidding process in order to garner the highest return for the city; however, this may negatively impact the family that has initiated the purchase inquiry.

The city followed the opinion of one lawyer whose opinion it was that the park land could only be sold to a predetermined buyer and no bidding process took place.

The city requested appraisal for Rosewood Park was for two unserviced residential lots.  The appraiser put a price of $74,500 on each lot, and noted that a lot size variance would be required to sell the property as two lots; but if the city chooses to sell it as a single lot the price is $108,000 which is a drop of nearly 28 percent.

The appraisal stated that the sales of two vacant building sites in Genelle were used in determining the value of the single lot price.

The city followed the opinion of the one appraisal for the price reduction on the single lot and presented the buyer with the two prices plus an estimate on the legal/survey/appraisal/geotech costs.   The buyer could pay $149,000 for the land and subdivide it, or pay $108,000 for the land and keep it as one piece.   The buyer offered $108,000 plus a fee of $7000 to recover the extra costs.   Has this transaction been carried out in the best interest of the taxpayers?

Several city memos state that the city will save maintenance costs and increase its assessment base by converting park land to developable properties.

The proceeds from the sale of park land must be put into a park land acquisition reserve fund.

Missing from the city analysis are the unique requirements pertaining to the expenditure of these proceeds which will result in the loss of assessment base, increase in maintenance costs and the added development costs associated with buying land to build a new park.

A city memo states that the sale of this park land provides an opportunity for council to assess community reaction to converting park space to building lots.  What percentage of park land is in your neighbourhood?  Current legislation requires that only five per cent of the land area in a subdivision be dedicated for park purposes.   Let city council know how you would feel about losing park land in your neighbourhood.

The nature of a counter-petition process whereby council has chosen to give citizens only the minimum of 30 days to respond with a petition and city hall has up to 30 days to deliver Freedom of Information Act requests leaves citizens scrambling to interpret what little information or half-information, the city chooses to divulge in the in-between.

This process, while legal, has created much backroom talk and left citizens uncertain about the future of park land in the city.

Council has the ability to change this.  The citizens of Trail and the park land in Trail deserve better.

For a city that is trying very hard to move beyond an image of smokestacks, why is the city disposing of green park land to convert it into green dollars that will sit in a bank account until the city is able to identify a need to purchase land to build yet another park?

Is the loss of 50 per cent of the riverfront park land in Glenmerry the legacy to leave for the future, or is it time to install some benches and picnic tables and construct the viewing areas to take advantage of the neighbourhood’s proximity to the river envisioned in the Official Community Plan.

Joanne Dietrich-Crossman

Glenmerry Citizens Group