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Residents petition RMOW against Lakeside Park rezoning

One hundred signatures collected in a week opposing zoning change

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More than 100 people have signed a petition to fight the rezoning of a small neighbourhood park.

Just last week Alta Vista resident Lawrence Keith spearheaded a campaign to keep Lakeside Park as a small neighbourhood park.

Keith is determined to fight the municipality's move to rezone the park on the shores of Alta Lake from a residential (RS1) zoning to a leisure park (LP1) zoning.

That's a move Keith said will legitimize the commercial operators using the park for boat rentals and lessons. Those operators disturb the peace and quiet of the neighbourhood, he said.

"It really is overcrowding the whole neighbourhood here," said Keith at Lakeside Park, a stone's throw away from his house.

Though quiet right now, Lakeside Park gets busy as soon as the summer sun starts to shine, and it doesn't let up until the fall.

He said the commercial operations overcrowd the park, create congestion on the neighbourhood streets, and also create potential liability problems for owners when inexperienced boaters trespass on their docks.

The municipality has a contract with a company which rents paddle boats, canoes and sells confectioneries out of the park. At least one other boating company runs daily trips out of the park too.

Keith Bennett, general manager of parks and recreation, explained the municipality's rationale behind the rezoning.

"Under RS1 (the current zoning), it permits what is called park and playground," he said. "Technically you could say that doesn't include operation of a concession (a commercial operator), however we believe the concession predates that zoning bylaw and it’s pretty much grandfathered in as a use in that park. However, changing the zoning to LP1 also legitimizes that operation and clears up any question as to whether it was grandfathered in or not."

Bennett said there are no plans to expand the commercial operations at the park.

The leisure park zoning would put Lakeside Park on par with the zoning at Rainbow and Wayside Parks.

But Keith said Lakeside isn't like the other parks, which have buffers from residential zones. He believes the commercial operations at Lakeside should move to those other parks.

At the same time as the rezoning, the RMOW is also consolidating the existing park with the adjacent municipally-owned residential lot. This will make Lakeside Park bigger.

In addition, the Mount Whistler Lodge residential development on the lands south of Lakeside Park is moving forward and the developers are giving more waterfront and parkland to Lakeside at part of their development amenities.

In the summer the municipality will begin a master planning process for the future of Lakeside.

Keith, however, maintains that's a backwards approach. The planning should be done before the rezoning he said.

"If I was a developer going in there and ask(ing) for zoning without any planning, I don't think they'd have a lot of time to talk to me," he said.

Ultimately Bennett said the municipality wants to make Lakeside a better park. There will be a public consultation process through the master planning process.

"All the residents there would be involved in the master planning if they choose to be," said Bennett.

The public hearing will be held in council chambers at 7 p.m. on Monday night.

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