Westview Park will remain park land because of a group of Atlin and Graham Avenue homeowners.
A number of Rupertites sent a letter to council requesting Westview Park, legally referred to as parcel 4, Lots 1 and 2, be included under the covenant of Chapter 59.
Chapter 59, was signed by the City of Prince Rupert, CN and the provincial government in 1965, and saw CN hand over 12 parcels of land to the city “subject to the express condition that the hereinafter mentioned lands shall not be used for purposes other than of parks, public recreation, municipal public buildings, public schools, hospital buildings, cemeteries, reservoirs, and generally only for those purposes that are for the use and enjoyment of the public at large and are of a non-tax producing nature”.
Westview Park, which includes the property the former Westview Elementary and transition house sit on, were originally part of the act but were later subdivided. Prince Rupert’s city manager Robert Long said for an unknown reason the covenant wasn’t put on the title at the time.
“It appears that after Westview Park was subdivided in 1964 to include a school on the property, the new Certificates of Title did not show Chapter 59 on the Legal Notations. This failure to register Chapter 59 on these Titles was the city’s responsibility and somehow was missed by both the province and the city,” reads the letter signed by 14 homeowners living in the area.
Long said after the proposal to build condos on Westview Park was cancelled late last year, the city had Bill Horne, the city’s former manager of engineering, look into the properties and do a report for council. Horne came to the conclusion that it was likely an oversight and Chapter 59 was still operative on the property.
Coun. Gina Garon wanted city staff to do another report before making a decision.
“I’m not saying I’m against it, I just don’t want to make a decision until we know exactly what all the legal avenues are that we go to do this,” she said.
But councillors Anna Ashley and Joy Thorkelson said Horne’s report was sufficient.
“In that report, the legal information was there,” Ashley said.
“I don’t want to spend a lot of money and a lot of time getting a report when Mr. Horne did such an incredibly thorough report. I don’t think there’s much more we could find out,” said Thorkelson, adding if a problem arises in the future they can deal with it then.
Mayor Jack Mussallem said it was hard to think council is running a good government and it was embarrassing as mayor to have council pass a motion based on a letter without adequate staff background. But he and Garon were the only members of council that felt more information was essential, with all others voting in favour of putting Westview Park under Chapter 59 conditions aside from Coun. Judy Carlick-Pearson who wasn’t in attendance.