Recent Items – 2002
Feb. 19, 2002, By Mark Nielsen, Daily News Staff
A plan to build a soccer park in the 1900 block of 102nd Avenue is heading to public hearing, but it’s far from a done deal.
Opposition to the proposal was expressed at city council Monday when well-known environmental advocate Don Pettit said the land should be devoted to nature, not soccer.
He said that land is part of a larger 26-hectare (64-acre) parcel that is the last large, untouched green space left within city limits and is also part of a much larger green space that extends along the creek well outside of town.
“In other words, it is not isolated but connected to the natural world outside of city limits,” he said. “This is rare and very unusual for a city to have, and offers some important opportunities that we might miss in our rush to develop it.”
Pettit said the area is a classic example of native northern boreal forest and supports a rich and diverse ecosystem and a wide spectrum of plant and animal life, including deer, moose and fox.
Although currently zoned agricultural, the land is designated residential under the city’s official community plan. But Pettit wants the area to be developed into a nature park — an area that is left wild and acts as a tourism, educational and recreational resource.
To that end, Pettit proposed upgrading some of the trails that already exist there and linking them to the Dawson Creek walking path, and providing a small parking area, picnic tables and signs.
As it sits, the area fills with thousands of nesting song birds each spring, making it a prime destination for bird watchers, which Pettit said is the largest hobby among Americans.
“Add the opportunity to see wild deer, fox, beaver and other wildlife, right within city limits, and you have a remarkable way to entice tourists to stay another afternoon or another day in Dawson Creek,” he said.
Pettit also related a story he heard from some 102nd Avenue residents about a tourist from Sweden who was amazed when told that wild deer and moose are often seen in the green space just across the street.
“So they took this tourist for a little walk in there and behold if a pair of deer didn’t appear right on cue,” he said. “It made their vacation.”
Pettit added that when thinking about whether or not to develop an area, what will be lost should also be taken into consideration along with what is gained.
In that sense, he said that the CN property north of the railroad track would make a better spot for soccer fields. “Here there are no existing values. It is a flat, treeless wasteland,” he said. “Adding anything to it will do nothing but increase its value.”
Conversely, he said that at 102nd Avenue there is just too much existing value that would be lost.
“In a city surrounded by open fields, how strange that we would think of turning this large tract of undisturbed forest left within city limits into yet another field.”
The South Peace Junior Soccer Society wants the city to donate land for a three-pitch central facility that would include a parking area and a clubhouse.
Following Pettit’s presentation, council members voted 6-1 to proceed with the rezoning process, which includes a public hearing before a final decision is made.
Coun. Calvin Kruk voted against the motion, and indicated that he’s already made up his mind. “I’m 100 per cent in support of more soccer pitches, but I’m 100 per cent opposed to using that land for soccer pitches,” he said.
A date for a public hearing will be set at a future council meeting.