A local park that was recently the subject of a petition is now back in Peachland’s control.
The District of Peachland bought 6114 Turner Avenue, historically referred to as Turner Park, for $3.1 million. The district will officially take ownership of the 8.26-acre property on March 30, 2021.
Peachland staff and the council will start developing a park plan, which will include a public consultation process to determine future park uses and maintenance.
In a previous interview with Black Press Media, the district’s mayor Cindy Fortin was tight-lipped about the situation but confirmed the council knew about the petition and have heard what the residents want to do with the greenspace. She inferred the district was working on something, but could not deny or confirm if they were going to buy the property.
Now, she said she and the council are pleased to announce the land acquisition.
“Conversations around the potential acquisition of this site have been on-going for decades,” she said.
Several residents launched a petition asking the district to buy the property, even gaining support from Dan Ashton, who was the MLA at the time.
Jay Heidelbach, one of the residents who started the petition, said previously since nothing was going on at the property, it might as well be used by residents.
“It’s still leftover park material and Peachland doesn’t have any other sports fields apart from one downtown that’s way too busy to use by locals,” he said.
“It’s a great time to buy it now and restore it to being a park.”
The site was first purchased by the Central Okanagan School District (SD 23) in 1976 from the Turner Family as a future school site. In 1979, the district was granted permission to use it until SD 23 needed the site back for school purposes. Peachland made an offer on the site in 2006, which was outbid by the current owners, SSC Ventures.
SSC Ventures applied for rezoning to develop single and multiple family homes on the site but decided to list the property for sale in September instead.
Turner Park was originally listed for $3.5 million, but the district was able to negotiate for a lower price. District staff said in a statement the purchase is being funded by short-term borrowing from the Municipal Finance Authority at low-interest rates.
“The loan repayment will come from multiple funding sources, including the potential resale of the lower portion of the property that fronts Princeton Avenue,” staff said in a statement.
“The district also has $700,000 in the Parkland Acquisition Reserve Fund. Park improvements will be considered in future budget deliberations and funding opportunities from senior levels of government.”