LETTER: Development ‘disservice’ on 24th Street in Castlegar

Letter from George Apel opposing Kinnaird housing development

Some may remember in their Grade 9 social studies, The Tragedy of the Commons. The Tragedy of the Commons occurred not from misuse by the public, but the sell off of common land for private use. In Castlegar we see this happening again.

In the Kelowna Capital News, Feb. 1, 2022: “Twenty years of urbanization erases green space in Kelowna,” and again on Feb. 2, 2022 on CBC (The Canadian Press): “Long-term Statistics Canada research shows cities across country losing green space.” One quarter of green space was lost during that period in Kelowna, the fastest growing city in Canada. This results in ecological and environmental problems including increased heat. Castlegar City Council is apparently choosing not to learn from Kelowna’s mistakes.

While there is no dispute Castlegar needs rental housing, the question is should the city be selling off park land. The Branson Park was a community response to a local tragedy. Should that coming together be discarded for profit? Are there not other available locations this private interest can purchase to develop? Are there not other avenues the city can utilize to encourage such development?

The reported under-utilization of this park came with no statistics or parameters. What governs utilization — parents or grandparents sitting with their young or playing on the swings, just walking or driving past undeveloped space. As a local resource, the availability of a space that can be walked to by local residents is invaluable. Perhaps if the Branson Park is considered under-utilized, it is more of a comment on its redevelopment after the pool was removed. Maybe it needs a basketball court and/or horizontal climbing wall. Maybe instead of doing away with this public space, it should be developed with public use in mind.

Green spaces in the past were substantially greater than they are now, and spread out more. Various short-sighted school board sell-offs have changed the community’s available space. Is the city going to continue that process of short-term gain for long term pain? The availability of creating new local parks and green spaces will only become more expensive.

George Apel

Castlegar, B.C.

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