It's reassuring to know the Delta Agricultural Society will have a say in the sale, and subsequent use, of Paterson Park.
If you remember, it was the agricultural society that cut what is now Kwantlen Polytechnic University a sweet deal back in 1993 so it could acquire the eastern portion of the historic Ladner property for a post-secondary campus. As we all know, that campus never materialized, nor does it look like it ever will, so Kwantlen has now put the strategicallylocated parcel on the market.
The announcement the property was up for sale was met with varied reaction in the community, but perhaps the most often voiced was a desire to see the site stay in public hands.
It was hoped it could be developed into some type of public amenity, and not turn into another condo complex or strip mall.
Delta holds the zoning authority over the land so whoever buys it from Kwantlen must satisfy civic wishes. That's a pretty big hammer to have, so it's unlikely anything out of step with residents' sensibilities would ever find its way onto the site.
However, it's comforting to know the agricultural society has entered, or perhaps re-entered is more appropriate, the scene to ensure the eventual use is a benefit to the community.
The society took less than the going rate two decades ago because it saw the value in what Kwantlen had planned for its half of the property. Just because Kwantlen's objectives have changed, it's good to know the society is still keen to see the former harness race track redeveloped into something that will add to our quality of life in South Delta.
Ideally, municipal hall, which owns the other half, would be the buyer, although it doesn't sound like civic politicians are enamored with the notion. That's too bad because if the site is going to provide one or more public amenities - and the more land you have, the greater the possibilities - there are only so many owners capable of delivering.
The stumbling block is the price, or more specifically Delta's aversion to taking on any more debt. As much as there are many benefits to this administration's pay-as-you-go policy with regards to capital expenditures, it curtails, at least in this instance, the vision of what could take place down the road.
Even if the municipality sits this one out, at the very least we've got the folks from the Delta Agricultural Society ensuring what happens will be in the best interests of the community.
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