Delta should try to purchase Kwantlen Polytechnic University's portion of Paterson Park, says Coun. Sylvia Bishop.
The first-term councillor made a motion to her colleagues at their regular meeting this week, asking Delta to explore the acquisition of the remainder of the park at the corner of Ladner Trunk Road and Highway 17.
Delta owns about half the site while the university owns the rest.
Kwantlen purchased the eastern section from the Delta Agricultural Society for $3.5 million in 1993 with the goal of building a campus, however, the land has sat vacant. A spokesperson for university recently confirmed the post-secondary institu-tion is now interested in selling the land.
Noting the land is zoned for public use, which could make it a difficult sell, Bishop told the Optimist the municipality has a significant opportunity.
"It think it's a golden opportu-nity to keep Paterson Park intact. It's very significant to Delta's history and a significant part of the landscape. I think we should secure it and then (figure out) how we would want to use it."
Over a decade ago, Delta formed a task force that heard a wide range of community submissions on what should be built on the municipal part of Paterson Park. Bishop said the vision at the time was to make the site a focal point for all of Delta.
As far as the possibility of a private developer purchasing the university's portion and trying to build housing, Bishop responded, "Delta should own it so we don't face those kinds of difficulties. You wouldn't want to see it developed into a residential/commercial complex where we lost the entire flavour of that piece of property."
She added, "I think we need to secure it and see how we can use it, but until we sit down and explore it with people we don't know what that idea is yet... I'm hoping that there would be other partners in the community that will help us secure it and help us put a vision for it into reality."
The park has been unoccupied for over 40 years and is now used mainly by joggers and dog walkers.
For decades it had been home to a popular harness racing track. After racing ended in the 1960s with the construction of Highway 17, several proposals have been pitched for the land over the years.
In 1976, for example, Royal Oak Holdings proposed a shopping centre, which prompted council to give "serious consideration" to purchasing the park from the agricultural society.
Ald. Ernie Burnett at the time said council was not prepared to see high-rise or commercial development at the park.
In 1980, the leisure services commission "strongly recommended" council acquire the park to develop a multi-purpose recreation facility. That recommenda-tion was supported by then administrator Mike Allen and planning director Tom Dennison.
The municipality eventually purchased part of the park 20 years later. After the Delta task force heard ideas, council decided development of the park was a low priority.
Bishop's motion will be discussed at council's next meeting.
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