A small number of Rutland Park Society members looked a gift horse in the mouth last week—and told the horse to shut up.
But the failure of what was widely considered to be a “win-win” for the park society, the City of Kelowna and for residents of Rutland cannot be laid totally at the feet of the 38 people who voted against the deal that would have seen the city buy Rutland Centennial Park and the right-of-way that runs between it and the adjacent hall from the society that currently owns the park.
That deal would not only have allowed the city to improve what has become a recreational blot on Rutland, where drugs dealers feel more comfortable to hang out than families, it would also have provided $800,000 for the society to make much-needed improvements and repairs to the hall—which it would have kept—and allow for the extension of Shepherd Road, home of the area’s new transit hub.
But while nearly two-thirds of those at the meeting (64 people) voted in favour of the deal, it required 75 per cent approval to pass, according to the society’s constitution. The problem was, the society’s board, which worked so hard to negotiate the deal, forgot to tell its membership about the 75 per cent requirement.
It even caught people well-versed with the doings of the society off guard.
And the folks at city hall who negotiated the deal said they too were not aware of the requirement. To say the approval-to-pass omission from the extensive advertising that was done for the vote was an oversight is a massive understatement.
Park society members who may have been swayed by the ridiculous assertion that putting a road through with buses on it would be a danger to children using the park, may have voted differently had they known about the need for 75 per cent approval given the pro-deal sentiment in the room Thursday.
And the comment also raises the question: Are other parks in the city that have roads beside them with traffic dangerous too?
Of course not.
Is the parking lot at the Capital News Centre in the Mission now dangerous because buses stop there? No.
The result of the decision on the future of Centennial Park appears to be short-term thinking that will result in long-term problems. The hall needs to be brought up to code and only has 10 to 12 years of useful life left if not improved. It does not generate enough money to pay for itself, let alone make the park an appealing place to go.
So, it appears, the once recreational jewel of Rutland is going to be allowed to continue its downward spiral, becoming a virtual black hole in the community.
Such a wasted opportunity.
Alistair Waters is the assistant editor of the Capital News.