Highlands could be finished its long search for a community hall after a family offered the District 20 acres of land.
Fred York is willing to give Highlands the land, and in return, he has requested a subdivision of nine additional residential lots, each between three and five acres.
With two grown children and two grandchildren, York wants to be able to pass land on to family members.
“The property has been in my family for over 60 years,” said York, 51, a lifelong resident of Highlands. “My children can’t get a mortgage with the land in my name. They’ll inherit it anyways, but it can be very problematic the way it is now.”
There are two adjacent properties in the request for rezoning at the intersection of Millstream Road and Finlayson Arm Road. The larger lot is about 60 acres and the smaller lot is nearly 10 acres.
The idea to donate the land to the District came to York after he heard the community centre task force put out a request for the public to submit ideas of potential locations for a community centre.
“A lot of people don’t want development in the Highlands,” York said. “Unless the community is getting something you don’t get rezoning.”
The pressure is on for the district to build a community centre — the provincial grant for the project expires in March 2013.The grant will cover 80 per cent of the cost up to $400,000.
The community centre task force has looked at the area and thinks it will be a good fit, said Highlands Coun. Sigurd Johannesen, council liaison to the task force. “The committee has already endorsed it, but the rezoning is a council matter.”
The close proximity of the site to Mary Lake is an added bonus, Johannesen pointed out.
“It connects to the Mary Lake property and forms a link to the trails in that area.”
A few months ago the task force held a public open house for the Finlayson Arm Road location. “There was very strong public support for that site,” Johannesen said.
Prior to this option the task force was looking into two other locations for a potential community centre, one connected to the municipal hall and another site next to the west fire hall.
While both of those locations are on the table, Johannesen explained parking would be limited at the municipal hall and building space could be limited at the fire hall location.
“We need a hall for the community’s sake,” York said. “There is nowhere to hold a meeting here, all of the buildings are too small. When there is an election we have to move all the fire trucks and use the fire hall.”
With the 20 acre property, York said it could be possible to move the municipal hall and fire department onto the lot. “This land is big enough to grow in the future,” York said.
“(The rezoning) is going through the process and it will take some time,” Johannesen said. “If the rezoning doesn’t work, then we will have to go back to (the other two locations).”
York’s application has been submitted to council. “If you want to rezone a property it has to be in the greater good of the everybody,” Johannesen said.