A petition asking the District of Peachland to buy a local greenspace has attracted quite a bit of attention and support from the community.
Jay Heidelbach lives right next to Turner Park and he said every day, he sees people using the area to hang out or play sports even though technically, the space has been private property since 2017.
“They’re technically trespassing. But the owners have just done nothing with it. 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.”
So Heidelbach and his neighbour decided to launch a petition to bring attention to the situation and to convince the district’s council to buy the park back.
Developer SSC Ventures submitted an application to rezone the park into a residential development back in 2017, which was met with great resistance in the community. The application file has since remained on hold as the developer continues to work on a comprehensive development permit package, which was given a three-month extension in April of this year.
But the developer bowed out and the property is now up for sale again, which is why Peachland residents are saying this is the right time to buy it.
In all, an online petition and a paper petition making the rounds in Peachland have gained about 240 signatures in just over a week. Heidelbach said some district councillors seem receptive to the petition, and MLA Dan Ashton has also lent support.
Peachland mayor Cindy Fortin said the district council and staff are all aware of the petition and have heard what people want.
“We appreciate that so many people want us to acquire Turner Park… it’s just a very recent turn of events that the developer decided not to go ahead with their development,” she said.
“The thing is, any land acquisition that the district would be considering would be done in a closed meeting. So this means there’s not much we can confirm or deny or talk about.”
Heidelbach said he doesn’t have a specific goal for number of signatures, but he wants to have enough so he can show council just how important the issue is to the community.
“I just want to smash it out of the park. People obviously want this park… do something about it.”