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Alta Vista residents worried about future of neighbourhood park

Council hears opposition to Lakeside Park rezoning

Alta Vista residents have banded together in opposition of the municipality's attempt to rezone their neighbourhood park.

At a public hearing on Monday night, eight people voiced their opposition to council over the move to rezone Lakeside Park from a residential zone to a leisure park zone. Many others were there listening to the submissions.

Dave Williamson said he was suspicious of the reasons why the municipality was going through the rezoning process.

"I get the feeling that there is an agenda to make this a major resort park," he said. "It's not. It's a neighbourhood park that kind of got away on us."

Like many of the others who spoke, Williamson said he would like to see a more detailed plan and design for the park before the rezoning. The municipality will kick off a master planning process for Lakeside Park this summer.

At the heart of the issue are concerns about the explosion of commercial activity in a quiet residential subdivision. Already there are commercial boat operators using the park in the summer time for canoe rentals and sailing lessons. It's an activity that has steadily increased over the last decade.

Residents such as David Norton have lived in the area since 1972 and have seen the growth in the commercial activity. While he recognizes the importance of commercial activity in the resort for tourists, he urged council to look at another location on Alta Lake, further away from such a densely populated neighbourhood.

"Put it in an area that's away from the parks, make it exclusive and everyone's a winner," said Norton.

Under the current residential zoning, parks and playground are permitted uses. The commercial operation at that park, however, is not technically included in the zoning, even though it has been going on since before the bylaw’s existence. That means it is grandfathered into the zoning.

The leisure park zone allows for commercial operations. It is the same zoning that exists in other municipal parks such as Rainbow and Wayside.

"There is no intent to change the current use in the park," said Keith Bennett, general manager of parks and recreation.

At the same time he could give no clear answer as to why the municipality was rezoning the park at this time in the absence of a master plan.

Council deferred making a decision on the Lakeside Park rezoning because of the opposition. They will make a decision after they have time to consider the comments from the public.