Conkle Mtn. parkland?

A decade-old plan to dedicate the Conkle Mountain area as parkland will be going to a public hearing on Monday (Nov 28).

A plaque was placed at the entrance to the Centennial Trail which notes the area was dedicated as parkland on Oct. 1, 2006, but according to a staff report, no records could be found of the District of Summerland actually making the zoning amendment necessary to make the dedication.

“It appears clear that this (dedicating the area as parkland) was the intention of both community groups and council in 2004,” the report reads. “The Centennial Trail and numerous hiking and biking trails are located in this area so it appears appropriate to designate this area as park on the (official community plan).”

Staff suggested rezoning the Conkle Mountain Park, which is made up of eight district-owned parcels of land, to reflect its current uses, which include hiking and biking, noting the area has been designated as an environmentally sensitive development permit area.

“Should any significant development of this property be considered in future, an environmental assessment and Development Permit would be required,” the report says.

By dedicating the area as parkland, future councils would be hindered in altering the official community plan for that area.

Park dedication can only be tossed out under one of three conditions: the approval of voters, exchanging the park for other land deemed suitable for park purposes or with the intention of placing proceeds in a reserve fund to acquire parkland.

The proposal received four written submissions by the Nov. 24 deadline, including one from Summerland’s mayor during the 2006 centennial celebrations David Gregory, who notes three particular areas in need of protection.

Those areas are the foreshore at Prairie, Aeneas and Trout Creeks; the Trout Creek Ecological Reserve and the provincial deer reserves at the northern end of Garnett Valley, according to Gregory. He said increasing activity in those areas – including allowing horses, dogs and bikes – would be detrimental for the ecology and “the main reason for creating these parks will be lost.”

“It is the same reason for the creation of the Brigade Trail Linear Park. This trail goes through sensitive deer habitat and there is a critical need to minimize activity in these areas,” Gregory said. “Why the park dedication zoning was not completed on this centennial park is also difficult to understand.”

Another submission by Bernadine Jacobs, however, called for the area to remain as agricultural and forestry grazing, noting a lack of off-leash spaces for dogs.

“We need to keep what agricultural land we have agricultural, that is what built this town,” Jacobs wrote.

Simone Kutos wrote the calling for further prescriptive bylaws, which would explicitly permit cycling, off-leash dogs and horses, while outlining the area as a “non-motorized” and “multi-use” park.

The public hearing is set to be held on Monday (Nov 28) evening at 7 p.m.

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