Public hearings are planned for a new park for City of Powell River.
Penticton Trails is a network of forest trails on city-owned land bound by Penticton Street, Mackenzie Avenue and Teakerne Street up to the proposed Manson Avenue extension.
The trails are popular and used by dog walkers, cyclists and residents out for a stroll in the woods, but not all of the trails will be included because of land ownership and possible future development.
An opportunity for the public to give input must be held before the motion is returned to council for final approval on Thursday, October 4 at 6 pm.
In June, city council made the project a priority item and on Thursday, September 6, passed second and third reading of bylaw amendments to designate the area for parks use.
The idea for the project was first raised in 2015 by councillor Russell Brewer.
“It's important as we grow to see some of that area as green-space park over the long term,” said Brewer. He added Penticton Trails is also an important ecological area for Douglas fir.
It will be a protected park within a large area with potential for future development.
“There's lots of development potential there,” added Brewer, a three-term councillor who will be leaving city council at the end of the current term. “There was some concern it might preclude options for further development but there's still lots of room there. It's important green space but there's also some ecological value with the coastal Douglas fir.
Initially, mayor Dave Formosa expressed reservations about the park.
“This was something that took some time to wrap my head around,” said Formosa. “It's a large, beautiful piece of property for development owned by the city.”
Formosa came fully on board when it was explained that Penticton Trails is one of two adjoining properties the city owns in the area. “At some point that will be freed up for development as well so it just makes sense,” said Brewer. “I view it as a bit of a compromise. Retain some green space and retain some other city land for some development potential when and if the time comes.”
There are two other blocks of land in the area which are owned by qathet Regional District and a private owner.