Residents of Krestova have formed a fundraising group to try to raise about $300,000 to purchase land in the area for a new regional park.
The RDCK held a meeting in the Krestova Community Hall on August 29 to discuss the purchase and help support fundraising efforts. Just over 50 people showed up for the event.
“There was no formal process to determine those in favour but I would say that those in attendance, a near majority, were in favour of purchasing the land to keep it public,” says RDCK Community Services Manager Joe Chirico, who attended the meeting.
Chirico, who was there to present information about the deal and the timeline, said he told residents that there are “unique features of this land that will make it a valuable addition to the RDCK parks service.”
The meeting was organized a few days after the regional government announced it had offered to buy the 134-acre plot of land from the group of six owners for $870,000. The land has been used informally by the local community for decades, but is now up for sale.
One of the owners has put up their share of the sale proceeds ($145,000) as a donation to the cause and Area H Director Walter Popoff has put up $250,000 from the RDCK Community Development Fund. But that still leaves a funding gap of about $475,000, and locals have only about six weeks to find the money.
“Those in attendance expressed concern about the deadline of October 5,” recalls Chirico. “I responded that if the RDCK saw strong community support that demonstrated the funds could be raised, then if necessary, the RDCK could ask for an amendment of the purchasing agreement to grant an extension.”
However, he noted that, in good faith, they’ll only ask for an extension if it seems likely the fundraising will be successful.
The meeting also saw the formation of a 19-person ‘Save Krestova Park’ committee. It’s since met twice to discuss efforts for raising the money.
“We have a financial mountain to climb yet believe a trail will be blazed to the top of this mountain by people, societies and corporations who really want to save Krestova Park,” says John Bullock, chair of the committee.
Bullock says the committee’s goal is to raise $200,000, and get another $100,000 in matching donations. “We believe funds received from this fundraising campaign, along with other entities currently considering support, will be enough to close the deal on October 5,” he said.
The committee is planning a silent auction in Krestova for the end of September, and has established a Krestova Park Fund at the Kootenay Savings Credit Union in South Slocan to collect donations, Bullock said.
“Once the agreement between the RDCK and current owners is completed, the donations will be forwarded to the RDCK and donors will receive a charitable tax receipt from the RDCK,” he added. “Donations of $5,000 or more can be made directly to the RDCK prior to October 5 and they will also hold these funds in trust until the closing date, October 5.”
If the deal doesn’t go through, all the funds will be returned to donors, he says.
Individuals and corporations who want to pledge their donations subject to the completion of the sale to the RDCK can do so, but pledge forms must be submitted by October 1 and pledge payments must be made on or before October 21.
Pledge forms were to be sent to local mailboxes this week. The committee will also place forms in key community locations throughout the area.
The RDCK has approached the Columbia Basin Trust, but talks are only at a preliminary stage, Chirico says.
The RDCK could also borrow money to complete the deal.
“It was noted that the RDCK can borrow for the purchase of regional park land without voter assent – similar to Crawford Creek and Cottonwood Lake,” Chirico told the Valley Voice. “And that would mean that the land would have to remain regional park unless a referendum was held to remove part or all of the property.”
However, Chirico cautioned that while it’s technically possible for the RDCK to borrow money to buy the land without the okay from voters, whether or not the regional government would do it would depend on a decision of the whole RDCK board – and which group of taxpayers would be willing to foot the long-term bill for the borrowing.
For more information about donating or pledging, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice