The Trails for Creston Valley Society (TCVS) revealed that their hopes of turning their Riverside Wilderness Park location into a regional park may be at risk, after concerns from residents neighbouring the area led to the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) to withdraw their support from the project.
“Because RDCK does not support this parcel now to be a regional park, they started the process of getting budget money in place to get a consultant to come and talk to the various stakeholders of the area to see where there might be suitable locations for a regional park,” said Loretta Fladhamer, the vice president of TCVS.
The park is located on a parcel of land just off Highway 21 by the Goat River bridge and was purchased by TCVS in 2018 with the intention of providing safe and legal access to the river, with plans to donate it to the RDCK in hopes of it becoming a regional park.
Fladhamer said that while the group wants to keep the current parcel of land as the location of a regional park, the RDCK is looking at other areas around Goat River.
“The dialogue is that if (RDCK) finds a suitable location — we as one of the stakeholders also agree that is a suitable location — that once it becomes a regional park, we would be willing to move our park over to wherever that location is to satisfy the neighbouring concerns,” said Fladhamer.
She added that trying to find a new piece of land for a regional park that is accessible — let alone available for purchase — is “very few.”
“RDCK says near Goat River and we say on Goat River,” she said.
The application process of transitioning into a regional park is a lengthy one: the application is sent to the RDCK, who writes a report for their rural affairs committee, who issues the approval of the application.
If the green light is given, the application must then go through the RDCK’s board of directors, who must also give approval in order for the application to go through. Once that happens, the report goes to the Agriculture Land Commission (ALC), who makes the final call.
“We were all ready to go in May 2019 to the rural affairs committee. RDCK wrote a report saying everything was good,” said Fladhamer. “But then a neighbouring group said no, they don’t want it to be a park — we got yanked from the rural affairs committee.”
Fladhamer said that she is expecting to hear back on the group’s application status following an October rural affairs committee meeting.
“RDCK said that they want us to take time to have dialogue with the neighbouring group. We tried to have dialogues and there weren’t any,” she said. “It seemed like the process was going to be delayed, so we decided to continue it as a wilderness park.”
In the meantime, she said that TCVS has recently installed three wooden benches, and have also ordered picnic tables and a garbage bin.
“It’s there to be used as a park, but we can’t build our really nice big parking lot until we get this ALC application moved forward,” she said.
She added that there are plans to build a fence between the park’s driveway entrance and the residence located beside it. Last month, TCVS erected signs that directed park-users to the site’s entrance and parking space.
Shortly after those signs were put in place, fraudulent ALC signs were planted by an unknown assailant in an effort to deter people from visiting the park.
Following an RCMP investigation, Fladhamer said that police have determined who the culprit is, but did not disclose their identity to the group.
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