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Exploring options for selling community lands

At election time, a number of promises were made by councillor and mayoral candidates. One of the more prominent topics was the community centre.

At election time, a number of promises were made by councillor and mayoral candidates. One of the more prominent topics was the community centre. At the Monday, February 13, council meeting, councillor Wolfgang Duntz recalled those promises and said that, for some projects to have a chance to see fruition during this council term, things have to be set in motion right away. And he suggested to start with a process that would allow the selling or developing of the community lands.

"Without some disposition of the community lands, we cannot repair our finances and we can't have more capital expenditures," Duntz said. "No matter how determined we are, we have about one year to make difficult decisions."

"We basically need to see if we can raise $3 to 5 million dollars to settle the existing debt of $2 million and hopefully have some money left over for community projects and infrastructure," Duntz said.

Duntz said that to get the process under way, council needs to look at the community lands and determine which parcel could be developed easily and where the infrastructure is close by. Duntz thinks that it will take council a one-afternoon-long workshop to look at the options, evaluate the limitations and potential of the different lots and come to a resolution on how to proceed.

Councillor Tim Rhodes said that he deems it important that the workshop is open to the public. "Community input could be quite valuable," he said. "Knowing what the community is prepared to accept will allow us to move forward." Duntz agreed, "The wider the audience the better. This has to be carried by the people."

Mayor Adelaar said, "A workshop on the community lands is an important topic that should be dealt with after certain other more important topics have been dealt with including the strategic plan." Adelaar cautioned that council cannot make any decisions before the budget is in place and that ferry marshalling needs to be looked at in matters regarding Snug Cove.

Duntz said that decisions on the surplus lands will have an impact on the budget. Councillor Daron Jennings agreed that the issue of the surplus lands is connected to the budget process.

Councillor Alison Morse said, "The preliminary strategic plan has the surplus lands in there. It is important to get the budget out of the way but we will need a budget line item to reflect [dealing with the surplus lands]." She suggested that council could be brought up to speed in a committee of the whole meeting. She said the option of developing Lot 3 has already been explored, "The surplus land working group has analyzed the properties and analyzed the costs of servicing the properties."

"We are not just talking about the budget," Duntz said. "The five-year financial plan is equally important. Community building can only happen if we sell some of the community lands. But selling community lands is not same as developing Snug Cove. We are proceeding with a first phase that will allow the community to move forward." He added that the lower cove will demand a great effort, involvement with Metro Vancouver and BC Ferries and a tremendous amount of money. "We will not accomplish that in this term," he said. "But selling community lands will allow us to settle some debt and move the community centre [project] forward."