Editorial: Valuing parkland

A municipal property review led to some unanticipated developments at a special council meeting held last week.

South Dundas council was mostly in agreement about selling off a number of parcels of land.

As the municipality currently owns 50 properties, it was not surprising that it is moving forward with divesting itself of some of those holdings.

However, what was unexpected was that a few parcels of parkland – some very valuable pieces of waterfront property – are being considered for sale.

Oftentimes parkland properties come into being as a stipulation of residential development or subdivision agreements.

Why would parkland be a requirement for residential development, if only to later become a sellable asset for a municipality?

Does there come a point when the recreational/social value of a park becomes somehow less valuable to a community?

Neighbours and park users might think not. Others may think so.

By pursuing the sale of certain park assets, South Dundas council and administration are demonstrating that they believe the dollars and cents of these properties are what’s important to taxpayers.

Not only will the municipality benefit financially from the sale of assets, new construction on those lands will bring new tax dollars to the tax base.

This type of sale also brings with it an opportunity to reposition and consolidate parks, which could mean added efficiency and improved long term use of resources.

In the case of waterfront parcels, there needs to be the utmost consideration given to maintaining a reasonable amount of public access to the river. Once those lands are gone from the public realm, they will never return.

Selling parkland is sometimes a solution offered up by cities like Detroit, Michigan, a city faced with financial pressures, struggling with unemployment and facing an eroding tax base.

Are things that bad here in South Dundas?

Or, is this a prime example of being penny-wise and pound-foolish?