Déjà vu for some in Saint John as plans to sell parks resurface

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Déjà vu for some in Saint John as plans to sell parks resurface

A new plan to drum up growth and tax revenue for Saint John is giving many residents an unwelcome sense of déjà vu with the inclusion of a plan to sell off parkland.

On Tuesday, the city unveiled its plan for growth, which includes a recommendation for the potential sale and development of city property.

Sites that are included as possible candidates for disposal are the former Lantic Sugar site and Fundy Quay, along with Tucker Park and an area on Sandy Point Road, which local residents fought to protect six years ago.

The city tried to sell the property at 1671 Sandy Point Road in 2011. Once a part of Rockwood Park, it was rezoned to attract a housing developer. After fierce protests, Mayor Ivan Court's council abandoned the sale attempt — but Mayor Don Darling appears prepared to take on similar protests by putting the property back on the market.

"Some folks didn't like those plans and it was stopped," Darling said. "This council, with this context, with the need to grow, Sandy Point is back...on the agenda."

Decisions shocks some

Joan Pearce said she was shocked to hear the property was once again being considered for sale. She is a member of the group Friends of Rockwood Park, which previously fought council on the sale, and is already trying to contact the mayor to urge him to drop the issue.

"People still feel as strongly," Pearce said.

Like many who opposed the previous sale, Pearce maintains the area should remain open to the public. She also thinks there is enough land in other areas where the city could build.

"There was a huge outcry before," Pearce said, "I really wouldn't like to get involved again in doing this, but I'm quite willing and quite prepared."

Tucker Park also up for grabs

The city's plan to sell Tucker Park is also being met with some criticism. Known for its seclusion and views of the Kennebecasis River, the park still draws visitors in the winter months.

"I think it's one of the better places to come in the summer," said David Marr, who walks his dogs in the park three times a week.

Marr learned about the potential sale Wednesday morning and wasn't a fan, calling it a "terrible" idea.