The battle for Spellman Park may just be heating up.
A proposed bylaw that would have removed park status from the almost five-acre green space at the corner of Spellman and Lindholm roads in Metchosin was defeated, after more than the required number of eligible voters signed an Electoral Response Form against the change. The District of Metchosin must now hold a referendum on the issue if it wishes to enact the change.
Anna Hall, who lives next door to the park and spearheaded the Save Spellman Park campaign, said she was pleased with the response, which saw 566 Metchosin residents sign the form.
The process requires at least 10 per cent of eligible voters to indicate their opposition, which is 377, she noted.
Metchosin Mayor John Ranns, clearly frustrated with the result, which was brought up at Sept. 14 council meeting, said there has been a good deal of misinformation about the District’s intentions for the property.
“It’s two building lots and in past years, we tried to do something with it. We tried to put a bike jump park and (the public) said they would prefer to put residences in there.”
“So we put the bike jump park in municipal areas instead,” he said. “We don’t even intend to sell it immediately, but we heard there may be federal land of much higher park value becoming available.”
This “orphan” park, which was once logged and is second-growth forest, could not be sold for the sake of adding residential properties,” Ranns said. Instead, plans were to use the approximately $400,000 the property would fetch and add that to park acquisition funds, or partnering with others, to acquire even more park land.
He said he has no intention of seeing any parkland lost in Metchosin. In fact, he wants to add to the park value in the district, as long as the municipality doesn’t have to take on debt to do so.
“Metchosin does not borrow money – that is a rock-hard policy – it is a pay-as-you-go municipality,” Ranns said.
“If another land of a higher value (became available) we want to be able to respond to that immediately.”
Hall wasn’t phased by the argument, saying she still isn’t interested in losing Spellman Park. The property is separated from Blinkhorn Park by Lindholm Road and is surrounded on two sides by residential lots – one of which Hall owns. She said those living close to the park and those further away have voiced interest in keeping it as it is now.
“I am also concerned with selling one to get something better,” she said. “In a district like Metchosin, where there are very few areas that are left as parks, why are we risking losing one? Because losing one opens up that door, even if it is a tiny bit, to losing the other ones and what will be the argument next time?”
Despite the defeat, the topic will not be going immediately to a referendum, which could cost the municipality approximately $8,000. However, the future of Spellman Park could still be raised again at a later time.