White Rock officials are looking to transform a linear strip of city-owned land into something the whole community can benefit from.
For longtime area residents Karen and Alf Clark, an important piece of the Centre Street road allowance puzzle is easy: keep it simple.
“Something that’s low-maintenance, because we (the city) do not maintain what they plant,” said Karen Clark.
The Clarks – who have lived adjacent to the road allowance for 57 years – were among about 20 people to attend a public information meeting regarding the land, which stretches between Marine Drive and Columbia Avenue.
Held at the White Rock Community Centre May 8, the meeting was the second of four planned to glean ideas for the under-utilized and, in places, overgrown green space. The next was to take place this week, but has been postponed due to the ongoing strike.
According to Greg St. Louis – the city’s director of engineering and municipal operations – the aim is to have a design ready for the fall, with implementation to take place in 2015.
The city has budgeted $300,000 for the work – an amount St. Louis admits “isn’t a lot of money for something like this.”
“We’re hearing from people… (that) they want simple, low-maintenance,” St. Louis told Peace Arch News. “That’s what we would like as well.”
Challenges to the project include that over the years, portions of the land have been ‘adopted’ by adjacent landowners for their own use. In one case, a hedge added around a chunk of the road allowance significantly increases the neighbour’s private property.
“One gentleman did have a permit (from the city) that was issued many years ago,” St. Louis said.
The resident understands the permit can be revoked at any time, he added.
So far, ideas for what to do with the road allowance have ranged from adding stairs or a vineyard to installing a zip line.
“We want to hear from all residents what they want to see,” St. Louis said. “We have no preconceived ideas.”
Coun. Helen Fathers is chair of the task force that was established to oversee plans for the improvements.
She said the idea was sparked during controversy that arose last spring after a homeowner advised the city that his plans to build on an adjacent lot meant the roots of a number of mature Douglas firs on the city’s property would be cut.
While visiting the scene, “we stood there and thought, wow, it’s huge,” Fathers said of the road allowance.
“That’s really when it all started.”
She, too, believes the plans need to be kept simple.
“We would never want to implement something that we can’t upkeep,” she said.