Parks protection bid spurs Kamloops council to get more information on heritage designations

Two groups have asked council to protect Riverside and Pioneer parks from development

Kamloops council wants more information about heritage designations following calls from two community groups for protection of Riverside and Pioneer parks. Based on a motion from Coun. Kathy Sinclair, city staff will bring to the city’s development and sustainability committee information related to heritage designations, including parks.

Heritage as a broader issue will also be examined.

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“I am quite interested in getting some more information about heritage in our city,” Sinclair said.

Staff will bring information to the development and sustainability committee at a later date. Councillors Sadie Hunter, Dieter Dudy and Arjun Singh sit on the committee.

The move follows a request from the Kamloops Heritage Society and Friends of Riverside Park, which are seeking protection of the parks in light of a public market project proposed by a private group for the Lorne Street parking lot at Riverside Park.

The groups have taken no position on an outdoor skating rink proposed for the park. The rink would fit in the footprint of where the spray park is now located, with the rink operating in the colder months and the spray park open during summer.

Kamloops council asked to protect parks from development

In a letter to council, the Kamloops Heritage Society requested the parks be “designated” as heritage parks in order to prevent development projects within their boundaries.

Friends of Riverside Park, which in 2011 spearheaded a successful counter-petition against a proposed parkade in the Lorne Street parking lot, has also become involved in the wake of the public market idea.

Daphane Nelson, a volunteer with the group proposing the public market, said the project is in a holding pattern, with work going on behind the scenes that could not be disclosed. She said she does not understand concerns raised about the project that include creating a “tunnel city” on Lorne Street and inhibiting views.

Nelson said many streets in the city have multiple buildings and countered that the project would not take away from green space. She questioned why the market has been singled out when the proposed skating rink, which is within the park, has not been.

“When a group calls themselves Friends of Riverside Park, our group sees ourselves as Friends of Riverside Park, as well,” Nelson said. “We don’t want to detract from the beauty of the park.”

City development director Marvin Kwiatkowski said Riverside Park is currently a “recognized” heritage park, though that title does not mean added protections.

“‘Recognized’ is just a plaque,” Kwiatkowski said.

Park zoning does provide some protections, with permitted uses limited to such endeavours as food truck/trailers, golf courses, mobile food concessions, restaurants and recreation and community facilities.

Asked if a public market would be included in that, Kwiatkowski said it could be included as a community facility.

Interpretation of that ultimately comes down to council. Because the city owns the property, council can dictate that, just like any landowner, Kwiatkowski said.

“Anything that came forward, any proposal, council can say yeah or nay, obviously, for different reasons,” he said.

It is unclear whether a heritage designation would in fact provide those protections and that information will go to the committee. Council could also put restrictions on the parks via a covenant. Covenants can prevent construction and/or dictate whether a place should be reserved for specific uses.

“It’s just to what extent would council want to go with that,” Kwiatkowski said. “Does that mean no skating rink? A bandshell, gazebos? To what level, right? You can specify to what level of detail.”

© Kamloops This Week


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