Cumberland has long gone its own way when it comes to parks. Record file photo

Cumberland has long gone its own way when it comes to parks. Record file photo

Cumberland hesitant about regional park service

Community was left out of area park plan back fifty years ago

While some members of the regional district want to revive a regional parks service, Cumberland isn’t so sure.

The CVRD board voted in December to fund a study to look at what it would take to get the parks service going again. It was created in 1971 but dormant in recent years. At present, there is an electoral areas parks service funded by the electoral areas but not one for the entire region. The CVRD board has considered a few properties as parks from a regional perspective.

RELATED STORY: Comox Valley directors discuss regional parks service

The original service, when created, covered a larger area which included what is now the Strathcona Regional District service area as well as the CVRD area.

‘There was a lot of disagreement about what parks should be part of that regional service,” said Jesse Ketler, the Cumberland council member who also chairs the CVRD board. “Because there were so many participants, I think that was a difficult conversation.”

As part of this process, local government members are to provide input to the regional district.

“I think it’s a good time to revive this discussion,” she added.

At the Jan. 11 meeting, members of Cumberland’s council were a little wary, not so much of the idea but the implications of funding a regional service while the village has devoted its resources to creating parks in and around Cumberland. At previous meetings, council members have recounted how its trail service in particular attracts many from outside the community, though Cumberland pays for the recreation service.

Some members of council said they would be willing to consider the idea of the CVRD running the regional service again but wanted to get an overview of the existing park system.

Coun. Gwyn Sproule pointed to the “magnificent system” of parks that Cumberland has developed on its own. She also wondered about the timing of the issue and whether there was any need to rush into a decision.

“I think we have our hands quite full,” she said.

While the idea is for the service to run region-wide, Ketler noted there was a particular obstacle for Cumberland in that it was the ‘black sheep’ back in the 1970s and the only municipality not included as part of the regional service. The village would have to vote to join.

If council is not getting behind the idea yet, members are willing to weigh the option. Council members passed a motion to have village staff prepare a report about the ramifications of a regional service, as well as invite a staff member from the CVRD to make a presentation about the proposal.

In the letter to council, the CVRD outlined the process, which would include a background study followed by service implementation legislation and strategic planning. The estimate is that it could take several months to complete each step.

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