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Second vote on Rutland Centennial Park deal to be held

If at first you don't succeed, try again.

That's what the Rutland Park Society is doing in a second attempt to win enough support from its members to approve a deal for future improvements to Rutland Centennial Park and the adjacent hall.

Park society president Todd Sanderson said a second vote will be taken by the society members at the organization's upcoming annual general meeting. That meeting is expected to be held some time in October.

Sanderson said after the proposed deal with the City of Kelowna failed to win the required level of support it needed under the society's constitution at a special meeting last week, negotiators for both the society and the city met to "tweak" the deal.

Following a suggestion by a park society member at last week's meeting, the proposed deal now includes a clause that says the park will continue to be a park in perpetuity, regardless of whether the Rutland Park Society exists. The previous version gave the society a veto on any planned changes to the park as long as it was in existence.

Sanderson said the covenant for the park has also been rewritten in what he called plain language and the society's board is getting pictures and detailed descriptions of the traffic calming measures the city plans to put in place on the extension of Shepherd Road that would run along what is now the wide driveway into and out of the park property. The creation of the road extension would not take away any parkland because the driveway is wider than the proposed road that would run between the park and the hall.

The city has also agreed to write into the deal that the $400,000 it has already budgeted to improve the park, should the deal be approved, is just the start. Sanderson said city hall is willing to put in writing that it is committed to completing the improvement to "the highest level of parks in the city."

If approved, the deal would see the city take over the park and the right-of-way in return for $800,000 to the society. That would allow the city to improve the park, something that the society does not have the money to do. The society would keep the hall.

The $800,000 that the society would receive would be used to improve the hall, which Sanderson described last week as being "not up to code."

The city wants to extend Shepherd Road out to Rutland Road as part of the deal because the road, to the east of the park, is home to Rutland's new transit hub.

At last week's meeting, where just under two thirds of the 102 society members who cast ballots voted in favour of the deal, the agreement was shot down because it required a minimum 75 per cent approval.

Curiously, only two-thirds approval would be required if the vote was held at the society's annual general meeting, according to lawyers for the society.

The society now has about 150 members and all membership will have to be renewed before the AGM. Sanderson said how that will be achieved is currently being looked at.

Sanderson, whose term as president expires prior to the upcoming AGM, said he is considering running again. He said he was buoyed by the result at last week's meeting, despite the failure to win the required level of approval.

This time, he said, the board will include the need for at least 67 per cent approval in its advertising prior to the upcoming vote. Prior to the last vote, the board did not advertise the need for at least 75 per cent, leaving many supporters of the deal questioning why 63 per cent support was not enough.

Opponents of the deal last week cited concerns about a road with buses on its being so close to the park and being a possible danger for children playing in the park.

That is why the society wants clarification about the proposed traffic calming measures and to know what the speed limit will be on the road extension.

 

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