by John Boivin
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice
Residents of the West Kootenay, and donors from as far away as Quebec and Panama, have put their money where their mouths are for a new regional park in Krestova.
The head of the Save Krestova Park fundraising committee says they’ve completed gathering pledges, and have more than $475,000 sitting in Regional District of Central Kootenay coffers for purchase of the 134-acre plot of land.
“All these funds are now in place, at the RDCK, specifically dedicated for the purchase of that particular property,” says John Bullock. “Our work is done.”
The ad-hoc committee of Krestova residents only had six weeks to raise the money after the land was put up for sale in August. Though it had been traditionally used as a neighbourhood park, it was legally private property, and the consortium of owners had decided to sell.
That set off a flurry of activity, and by October Bullock’s committee had received $475,000 in pledges. A grant from the RDCK and one of the landowners rounded out the $870,000 asking price.
Then the job turned to calling in nearly a half million dollars in pledges, which Bullock said turned out to be pretty painless.
“There were only two people whose circumstances had changed and they weren’t able to follow through,” he said. “And that only amounted to $150.
“Everyone else came through really quickly. It took a little longer to get the bigger donations, but it was not related to their intention whatsoever, it was just them having to move money from investments, etc.”
Bullock says there have been intangible benefits to the community in this extraordinary accomplishment.
“I think it has been very positive, and even healing,” he says. “There have been historic, legitimate tensions between government and the community, and I think we helped make that better.
“People had different opinions about what to do with the park, but there was a settled agreement after a short period that the best thing that could be done would be to make the park in perpetuity, honouring the initial purpose of the Doukhobor families that purchased it.”
The land sale goes through in the spring, and Bullock says the fundraising committee plans a celebration on April 1.
The RDCK will then begin consultations on just what should be in the park and what amenities citizens want and are willing to pay for.