Supporting fair, equitable and transparent practices on Trail city council

Local resident does not support the decision that Trail city council has unanimously made to adopt Park Disposal Bylaw #2750.

While I appreciate the work and dedication that Mayor Dieter Bogs and Trail city council give to the City of Trail, I do not support the decision that Trail city council has unanimously made to adopt Park Disposal Bylaw #2750 to dispose of park land on Rosewood Drive to one family because this bylaw does not support the type of fair and equitable or transparent practices which I expect Trail city council to abide by when selling city (taxpayer)-owned park land.

The property on Rosewood Drive is zoned R1. R1 zoning carries the broad title of single family residential but this does not mean that a house needs to be built on the property.

There are many permitted uses of R1 zoned properties, including parks and playgrounds.  Zoning bylaws are used to put the vision of the Official Community Plan into practical, legalistic terms.

The Official Community Plan shows the property on Rosewood Drive is dedicated as park land by subdivision Plan #4687 and it has been park land since 1962.

The Community Charter states that electoral approval is required to remove the dedication of park land before this land can be disposed of by sale.

Once electoral approval is achieved, the Community Charter does not dictate the manner in which the sale of park land is brought to market; Trail city council makes this decision.

The Trail city council policy manual clearly states “Lands in the first instance, shall be sold by sealed bid pursuant to the provisions of the Municipal Act and thereafter across the counter.”

A  City of Trail  Facebook posting states that the property could not be sold as a sealed bid “because the land was dedicated as park” and “the City could not proceed on a speculative basis.“

The definition of speculative is, “The act of trading in an asset, or conducting a financial transaction, that has a significant risk of losing most or all of the initial outlay, in expectation of a substantial gain.”

The definition of reserve price auction is “a price a seller can set when they create an auction-style listing. It’s the minimum price they’re willing to accept for an item. If the bidding doesn’t reach this price, they aren’t obligated to sell the item.”

I feel that Trail city council could have chosen to write a bylaw which allowed for electoral consent in the sale of the park land on Rosewood Drive and offered the property for sale through a reserve price, highest sealed bid auction which would have honored the criteria set out in the Community Charter and the “first instance” policy of the Trail city council policy manual and allowed this family and any other interested parties to enter a sealed bid; removing all speculation and creating a fair, equitable and transparent sale.

The resulting sale of a property sold through a highest sealed bid auction would create a real estate sales comparable in the Glenmerry neighbourhood which would accurately reflect today’s market.

The resulting sale of this park land, if sold through the adoption of Bylaw #2750 for the amount of $115,000 for a 10,300 square foot lot, when registered with the Land Title Office will create a real estate sales comparable which will give neighbouring properties that are currently property tax assessed at $83,500 for 5,400 sq. ft. lots valid grounds to dispute their BC property tax assessments.

The Community Charter states that in the case of park land by subdivision, “all proceeds from the sale must be placed in a park land acquisition reserve fund.”

This money cannot go into general revenue; it must be used to acquire land to build a park.   Any maintenance costs saved here or assessment base gained here will be offset by maintenance costs spent and assessment base lost with the purchase and development requirements of building new park land.

The Trail city council policy clearly states “In general, the City should retain land in its possession for parks or green belt purposes, road or utility development of the land or area and for other public related uses.”

The Official Community Plan for the City of Trail reads “The Official Community Plan survey results indicate a desire to improve maintenance standards of existing parks prior to considering the construction of new parks or recreational facilities within the city”.

While I have read a statement made in the local paper and on Facebook that the city does not intend to sell further city-owned lots at this time, I have also read a City of Trail Memorandum File #0810-07 which clearly states that the sale of this property “provides an opportunity to encourage in-fill development.”

There are presently several parcels of park land and green space located in various neighbourhoods in the city of Trail which are similarly designated as park land.

If the citizens of Trail allow city council to adopt Bylaw #2750 in its present form, it will set a precedence which will allow this council and future city councils to sell park land in any neighbourhood in the City of Trail to private individuals, using a Notice of Alternative Approval Process to achieve electoral consent with an appraised price in exactly this same way.

For this reason I encourage citizens to consider supporting the petition which requires 600 signatures before April 2 that is currently available at the Colander, Bella Tire, Little T’s, The Mohawk Gas Station and by request at saveourparks@outlook.com.

I have nothing but respect and empathy for a family who just wants to buy some property to build a home.  I feel that Trail city council could have chosen to handle your request much differently.

Ingrid Enns, Trail