Lethbridge's north regional park may be delayed. But contrary to previous information, its exact site has not been determined.
That was the news from city council Monday for residents of Blackwolf, one of the city's newest subdivisions. Home-buyers came to council to protest an apparent change in the major park's location, discovered when park design consultants made their proposals public earlier this fall.
"I know it's going to be a great addition to the city," said Blackwolf resident Kaye Garner, representing nearly 80 owners in the new neighbourhood north of Uplands.
But plans presented during an open house at City Hall showed the park would not border Uplands Boulevard, as shown on the city's official "area structure" plan. As a result, she said, "park view" properties many buyers selected - paying a premium price - would lose that amenity as well as their clear view of the western horizon.
Websites for the city and parks consultant both confirmed plans to shift the park west, she said, contrary to structure plans approved by a previous council.
"It will be difficult to believe the city," if it's ignoring its own planning process, Garner warned. "If promises made will be promises kept?"
She suggested the park be elongated, allowing for access from Uplands Boulevard as well as from 13 Street S. Garner noted the loss of two school sites in the new plan - subtracting more open space - and urged council to consider enlarging the park accordingly.
If the park is built as proposed, she said, northside residents will get a "regional park" that's significantly smaller than Nicholas Sheran Park on the westside, or Henderson Lake Park on the south.
Council is expecting to debate construction costs for the park in the spring, when it prepares the city's next capital improvement plan. The city already owns the land.
If a larger park size is approved, Garner said, the city could reduce its new spending by building the park's amenities in several phases.
That's a possibility, said city manager Garth Sherwin. Or the park could also be stretched, bordering on both Uplands and 13th but not running quite as far north.
But first, he said, the city must go through the process of amending the structure plan, reflecting the loss of the two sites the public and separate school boards say are no longer needed.
City officials ordered a halt to the park's planning several weeks ago, Sherwin reported, after subdivision developer Avonlea came to council to ask that the approved plan be followed. Design work could be stalled months, while a new area structure plan is developed and then brought to public open house events followed by a public hearing.
"I think it will end up delaying the park," he warned. "There's no question that an area structure plan amendment is required."
Erroneous information has been removed from the city's website, he added.
Before any decisions are made, Councillor Bridget Mearns reassured residents, they will be notified of what's proposed and invited to give their comments or to speak.
"I regret the stress this has caused," she said. "I'm saddened that you thought the decision had already been made."