Saint John residents celebrate Earth Day by raising concerns about selling parkland

1 / 3
Saint John residents celebrate Earth Day by raising concerns about selling parkland

Some residents in Saint John celebrated Earth Day on Saturday in Tucker Park and raised concerns about the city's plans to sell parts of two municipal parks to boost the economy.

"It's Earth Day today, so we're supposed to be appreciating our natural resources," said Joan Pearce.

"We're really on an awareness campaign ... just to make sure how important parks are."

Last month, the city unveiled "Roadmap for Smart Growth" — its plan to reverse population decline and grow the city's economy and tax base. Part of that plan is to sell 10 city-owned properties, including parts of two municipal parks, to developers.

A part of Rockwood Park was also identified as a property the city wants to sell.

Pearce fought a previous attempt by the city to sell the park.

Carol Ring said the city should look elsewhere for opportunities for development and growth.

"I think it's a terrible idea to sell any part of our parks for development," she said. 

"We need to keep the green spaces that we've got. There's plenty of room elsewhere in the city for development. There's no need to take away the parks from the people of Saint John."

Mayor Don Darling has previously said nothing is set in stone.

Organizers of Saturday's event are hoping to raise the issue with their councillors.

Coun. Gary Sullivan was at Tucker Park on Earth Day and spoke to the residents. He said the city's economic growth plan has its positives, but selling parkland isn't one of them.

"There's only two public accesses to the St. John River in Saint John — Tucker Park and Dominion Park. So, anything done to either area that takes away from its recreational use I think is a poor long-term decision," he said.