The implications of moving forward with the controversial renewal project proposal at Duncan Manor would have far-reaching consequences, according to Barry Corrin who speaks on behalf of the People For the Park group.
Speaking at a City of Duncan committee of the whole meeting on Oct. 29, Corrin said he represents more than 1,500 people who signed petitions and sent letters to the city opposing the project.
He said council will soon have to decide whether or not the city will swap land from Centennial Park to allow the project to proceed.
“You can put a building anywhere, but you can’t put a park anywhere else,” Corrin said.
“Saying ‘no’ does not mean you are saying ‘no’ to affordable housing. Saying ‘yes’ will mean a building on land zoned for a community park, which doesn’t permit a six-storey building as a principle use. A public amenity, a city-owned park and green space, will be paved over for an access road and parking stalls.”
The Duncan Housing Society submitted a rezoning application to the City of Duncan in September to allow the construction of a 133-unit affordable rental apartment building for seniors and persons living with disabilities at the site of the current Duncan Manor facility on First Street.
The memorandum of understanding signed between the city and the society would see a land swap for the portion of the nearby Lawn Bowling Club, currently owned by the society, for a portion of the city’s Centennial Park parking lot to make way for the construction of the new building on a section of the parking lot.
Corrin said everyone acknowledges that the aging Duncan Manor needs to be replaced, but if the project proceeds, the city will see the facility replaced, but with only 11 additional units from what is already in the current building, and a promise to build more units in about five years time, and only if the money is available.
“Centennial Park is a small park that is the heart of the inner city,” he said.
“Standing in the park looking around, seeing concrete and cars from First Street to Second Street, and a 60-foot wall looming above blocking the views of the sky, trees and opens spaces would be a very different view. It would be one that takes your breath away, and not in a good way.”
Council received Corrin’s presentation and asked no questions.
The Duncan Manor Society has already held a number of community consultations on the project, and members of the public are expected to have further opportunities to provide input before council makes its final decision on the rezoning and the land swap.