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Elected officials receive chiding over library process

Willingdon South should never have been in the mix says advocate

City of Powell River Council was told not to consider locating anything on the gravel pile known as Willingdon South without seeking voter assent through referendum.

At the Thursday, September 18, council meeting, prior to the adoption of Crossroads Village Shopping Centre proposal as the library site specified in the November 15 referendum, Willingdon Watch Group spokesperson Elaine Teichgraber gave councillors a stern warning.

“For those of you who don’t know yet, council has chosen the former Brick building, in the shopping area known as Crossroads Village, as the location for a new library,” Teichgraber said. “Although council has made this decision, Willingdon Watch would like to point out that the issues of Willingdon South and the restrictive covenant are still unresolved. We saved that historic waterfront from the library this time, but what might be next?”

Teichgraber said that from the time the land was given to the people in 1963, to the time a former municipal council attached a restrictive covenant to it in 1979, and up until the day of the council meeting she was speaking at, over a span of 51 years, developers have attempted to benefit from this property for their own interests. She said Willingdon Watch believes it is inevitable it will happen again.

She wondered how “one iota of consideration” could have been given to a proposal affecting a park with a restrictive covenant. A restrictive covenant, by definition, should make changes to parks forbidden, she said.

“This type of regulation would have saved the city thousands of dollars and the controversy over Willingdon South would never have been an issue,” she said. “We ask council to come up with a bylaw whereby parks with restrictive covenants cannot be altered or removed except by a majority referendum vote of the electorate. This would ensure voters would have their say and would also send the message that parks with covenants are not easy pickings.”

Teichgraber said she hopes the current and the next city council works swiftly to ensure parks with restrictive covenants are given special consideration. She added the citizens of Powell River should never have had to go through three years of fighting over Willingdon South.

“It is a park with a restrictive covenant,” she said. “No one, not even council, should be allowed to change that unless the voters say so.”

Mayor Dave Formosa said he wanted to make a correction to Teichgraber’s address to city council.

“Council has not yet resolved the library location issue,” he said.