Possibilities for the future of Turner Park became a little clearer last night, when Peachland council were presented with two options that offer distinctly different uses.
Last October the District of Peachland approved a land acquisition to preserve public use of Turner Park. The $3.1 million purchase became official on March 30.
At Tuesday’s council meeting Fiona Barton, a consultant with Outland Design Landscape Architecture, presented a project update to Peachland council that included the results of a recent citizen survey as well as two unique visions for the park.
Barton presented two options for Turner Park: one that features a regulation size ball diamond and another concept she called “The Commons.”
Developing a playground for the Turner Ave neighbourhood is a key recommendation of the parks and recreation master plan, recreation program coordinator Ben Stringer said at last Tuesday’s council meeting.
Both options for the park would be situated on the 5.55 acre flat upper area off of Turner Ave.
The lower sloped three acre portion of the park along Gillam Cres. and Princeton Ave is in the process of being disposed of through sale.
The ball diamond option includes a large ball diamond area surrounded by a parking area, a bookable event space, a playground and a dog park.
The plan to create a dog park and ball field at Sanderson Park was put on hold due to “access and development challenges to the site” and it has been determined that a ball field is no longer considered feasible at Sanderson Park.
There is currently a ball park at Cousins Park, which as of 2019, is booked about 15 to 20 per cent of available times, Stringer said.
The other option would feature a large ‘Commons’ open space, a dog park, a multi-use court and a playground and would include only on-street parking.
Barton said the ‘Commons’ open space could accommodate a soccer field.
The options presented took into consideration the results of a recent survey, which received 303 responses from residents.
“For the most part, people are not currently visiting your park very often,” said Barton. “It’s currently undeveloped in its current state.”
Barton also said about 26 per cent of people think a ball diamond is something that is important to them and would like to see retained.
When asked how important or unimportant the following suggested amenity upgrades are for Turner Park, respondents ranked the following “very important”:
• Playground swings – 44.75 per cent;
• Off-leash dog exercise area – 44.63 per cent;
• Playground slides – 40.28 per cent;
• Playground climbing structures, such as monkey bars or climbing nets – 40.2 per cent;
• Additional benches and picnic tables – 35.14 per cent;
• Opportunities to appreciate nature through increased native tree and shrub plantings – 34.14 per cent;
• Further established tobogganing hill – 32.65 per cent;
• Playground – natural play materials such as wood and sand – 30.48 per cent;
• Proposed perimeter trail – 30.14 per cent; and
• Entry plaza and park signage – 12.54 per cent.
The bulk of the survey respondents were residents of the Upper Princeton (43.56 per cent), Trepanier (17.49 per cent), and Lower Princeton (11.55 per cent) neighbourhoods. Although many of the survey respondents were Princeton area residents, 44 per cent said they drive to get to Turner Park, while 38.32 per cent said they walk and another 4.67 per cent said they usually cycle to Turner Park. No respondents reported taking transit or using a personal mobility device, such as a wheelchair, to get there and 11.33 per cent of respondents chose “none of the above.”
“We’re kind of split here. Some people thought there was adequate parking available; others thought not,” said Barton.
Residents were also split on the value of an off leash dog park. While 44.63 per cent said it was “very important” to them, about 30 per cent said no to the dog park.
Coun. Keith Fielding expressed concern about making sure the public is provided with a higher level of detail during the consultation process.
“Unless it’s clear to people that the proposed ball diamond would be possibly in place of the one at Cousins Park a lot of people would perhaps give their answers thinking that we’ve already got one so we don’t need another,” said Fielding.
Fielding also said he was really pleased to hear it would be possible for a soccer pitch to be accommodated on the site and hoped it could be given more attention during the consultation process.
Coun. Terry Condon asked what would happen to the washrooms and wanted to be sure they “don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.”
Council was told the washrooms are in good condition and would remain where they are.
Coun. Pam Cunningham said she would also like to see a basketball court and maybe more pickleball courts “because people are just mad about that game.”
“I think we should definitely put what we don’t have so that when you come we have something for everybody,” said Cunningham.
Cunningham said she’s not in favour of dog parks, however.
“If you buy a dog, you can’t say, ‘well I hope the city puts up a park so I can exercise my dog,’” said Cunningham.
Coun. Patrick Van Minsel said he doesn’t see a necessity for another baseball diamond but he believes Peachland is desperately in need of a dog park.
“When we develop this park the uses of the park will also grow. That means we do need some parking,” said Van Minsel, who suggested parallel parking along Turner Ave. “Trust me, when this is developed it will be used.”
Mayor Cindy Fortin said Peachland really needs to have amenities for young families in order for the community to continue to grow. Fortin also expressed support for a dog park and a soccer field.
After the meeting Van Minsel told the View he was very disappointed by the quality of the presentation.
“The presentation received about Turner Park and the possibilities of the park was disappointing to me. I expected a better report. It seemed to me it was thrown together very quickly. It did not live up to my expectations of a report, especially if you’re paying a consultant to do that,” said Van Minsel.
The next steps in deciding the future of Turner Park will involve preparing the two distinct concept options for community input and feedback.
The public consultation process will continue with an online survey as well as an un-hosted open house at the community centre, after which council will be presented with the results before proceeding to the final concept design.
The ultimate goal is to have some budgetary numbers for council by November, said Barton.