Why the secrecy behind land deal?

I would like to add a bit to your front page news story (Potential development raises water concerns, Trail Times May 19)  on the city of Trail rezoning its property, the old MacDonald site ,to accommodate a commercial development (such as a car lot).

I am not opposed to a rezoning. My concern is the protection of water source, the Bear Creek Well, that cannot be matched for quality and quantity, anywhere in Canada. Thirteen wells that I know of between Genelle and the U.S. border, this one is by far the best.

The water from this well is very soft, with no need for chlorination. It’s interesting to note the statement your paper carried by the City of Trail’s engineering technician (a lot of municipalities would die for this sort of water sources).

My short term concern is continuing the present high quality of water, followed by the very important challenge of leaving access to this incredible water source to be able to expand sometime in the future even if the future is 50 years. It’s interesting to note the Regional District forced a small business to close in Genelle because of fears of ground contamination. Residents in the City of Rossland  have uncompromisingly  opposed  the proposed golf course from fears of the effects on their water quality .

Two members of Trail council made public statement about the great potential commercial site that could be created by enlarging the city property in question, followed by a news story that the regional  district had agreed to the sale of land adjoining the property in question.

Phone calls enquiring about the activity lead to a shield of secrecy. I filed a freedom of information request with the regional district only to be informed that no correspondence existed from the City of Trail for purchase any property in the area.

I followed with freedom of information request to the City of Trail for any correspondence requesting the purchasing of land adjoining the old Macdonald site. The city replied, “There was no record of any correspondence to the regional district with a request from the city to purchase of the land in question.”

I requested a copy of a lease that exists between the City and the occupier of the old MacDonald property, only to be denied on the grounds of confidentiality.

It’s incomprehensible to think an elected body can invest $ 600,000 of taxpayers’ money and not be publicly accountable to the voters for what they have done with it or what we received for it. Why the secrecy?

I have requested the Office of the Information and  Privacy  Commissioner  to intervene and order the city to release the documents requested. It will be interesting to see if our new Premier’s statements of a more open friendly government is true and these documents will be released.

Norman Gabana

Trail