City abandons revamped Kingswood plan
Still no park in near future for residents
By: Peter Boer
| Posted: Wednesday, Jul 11, 2012 06:00 am
The city will stop all work on changes to the Kingswood area structure plan (ASP) that would have moved a problematic school site to a more desirable location and finally allowed development of the neighbourhood’s park.
The unanimous vote Monday night at a special meeting of city council was spurred by a notice of motion by Coun. Cathy Heron, who has been one of the most ardent supporters of getting the park in Kingswood developed. Though she wants the park to go forward, she conceded there is little support for the changes recommended in the ASP.
“To take it any further we would be faced with a gallery of people opposed to what council is trying to do,” Heron said. “I think this would probably not pass at a public open hearing. So before administration does any more work and spends any more money, we need to stop the work and see if they have any other ideas on how we can get this park developed.”
What’s holding up the park, in the city’s view, is Kingswood’s developer, Canterra. The school site and park site are adjacent one another. Canterra has said it will not build the park unless the city can assure the company the school site will not be developed into a high school. The city’s legal department has told council that is a guarantee the city cannot provide.
The proposed ASP amendments would have moved the school site away from the Kingswood interior and instead positioned it near Campbell Road. But it also would have closed one road leading into Kingswood and allowed for multi-family development in an area currently zoned for single-family homes, points that greatly upset the 110 people who attended a recent open house.
“We understood why the people were upset,” said Heron, who attended the public hearing along with Mayor Nolan Crouse. “You buy into an ASP with one thing behind you and I’d be upset if something changed.
“To be quite honest, I don’t have a solution on how to resolve this issue.”
The failure of the ASP is the latest in a series of moves council has debated to try and get Canterra to hand over title of the land for the park site. At one point in 2011, the city contemplated simply expropriating the land, but was advised that would be costly and inappropriate to simply take land it would eventually get. Other proposals, such as leasing the park space from Canterra for a dollar, have been discarded in previous negotiations but could be resurrected as administration goes back to the drawing board.
Crouse likened the situation to a “Mexican standoff,” saying there is no way the city can offer any kind of guarantee on what kind of school could be built on the site.
“The residents are being held ransom because they are not getting their parks, their trails, their parkland. I think we need to stop staff and the consultant from working on this,” Crouse said. “I think we have to ask our staff if there are any other options such as lease to purchase or lease to transfer or something.
“I’m very disappointed with the developer and very happy with the public, and council, I believe, has the obligation to put capital towards planning.”