Three Blind Mice, an area frequented by mountain bikers and other user groups, has been rezoned as park land in a decision by city council on Dec. 3.
The 338-acre parcel of land, located at 1400 Riddle Rd., was originally designated as forestry grazing, and the redesignation is to allow the land use and agreements to align with the recently completed Official Community Plan.
Along with the rezoning, the motion also requests that a budget for the park’s management plan and the anticipated capital and operational outcomes is brought to council in a future annual budget process, and that wildfire interface concerns continue to be addressed through the Penticton Community Wildfire Protection Plan.
Another part of the passed motion, which was opposed by Coun. Campbell Watt, Judy Sentes and Julius Bloomfield, calls for the amendment of the current licence to use agreements that city has with the Penticton & Area Cycling Association (PACA) and the Penticton Disc Golf Club to “include additional language that outlines requirements to ensure orderly maintenance and development of the related infrastructure” among other things.
“The city could continue to work with organizations such as PACA and Disc Golf, allowing them to maintain and develop this area in a responsible manner by amending their existing license to use agreements to include conditions regarding public consultation, environmental protection, construction and maintenance standards, and approvals by city staff prior to design and construction work being undertaken,” states the staff report to council. “This approach would be similar to the requirements outlined in partnership agreements between recreation sites and Trails BC and various user groups.”
The idea of designating the area as park land was brought forth earlier this year by residents in the area who were unhappy with trail activity by various user groups.
“I fully support the first three components (of the motion.) I’m not supportive of (the amendment of the agreements) because I think until such time that the management plan is complete, that’s the time to address your other concerns,” said Coun. Judy Sentes. “I feel the cart is going before the horse here. We’re going to do the plan and I’m supportive of that, but I don’t think we should do the other stuff until we have that.”
Coun. Campbell Watt echoed Sentes statement and defended PACA as “an organization that has proven itself very worthy of what they are doing” in regards to trail management in the Three Blind Mice area.
“They are doing it without funding. I know, for example, there are places like Rossland where municipalities give $130,000 to the same type of organization,” said Watt. “And we don’t fund (PACA), they fund themselves. So I’d love to see them continue their work.”
Len Robson, manager of public works with the city, clarified that the intention of adjusting the current agreements is not to prevent PACA from continuing their development, and that it could take up to 10 years to see a master plan for the park fully funded and developed.
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