About 50 people gathered for a public information meeting on plans for a park at Cherry Creek Falls last week, and Bob Johnstone, President of the Meadowbrook Community Association, says the meeting was far more positive than he had expected.
Residents went into the meeting knowing they’d be told that plans for the proposed park at the popular Cherry Creek Falls site in Meadowbrook had been hit by a major snag — the need to come up with $51,000 to purchase the current mineral claim if the park was to proceed.
The RDEK hosted the meeting and Electoral Area E Director Jane Walter says the goal was to provide the community with information on the steps that would be required to move forward with the creation of a park.
“The RDEK recognizes the community’s desire to see this area protected and we’ve been working with the owner of the Mineral Claim, the Ministries of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and Energy and Mines, and the community to determine possibilities for the long term preservation of the area,” explains Walter. “Having said that, the RDEK does not have funding to buy the claim. Following the meeting last night, the community has indicated they want to proceed with fundraising efforts to purchase the Claim.”
A total of $51,000 will need to be raised by September 30 to purchase the 188 hectare Mineral Claim, with a formal purchase agreement in place by October 4, 2012.
With that number, Johnstone said he expected a more negative reaction that what he witnessed.
“It was more ‘let’s take charge here, let’s buy this thing’. I was pleasantly surprised.”
An even more pleasant surprise occurred when seven people immediately stood and offered to donate a thousand dollars each to get things started.
“I asked three times for someone to speak against it,” Johnstone said. “No one spoke. But seven people offered to donate $1000 right off the bat. Our board met quickly after the meeting and agreed to go ahead.”
With such a significant amount of funds to be raise, Johnstone said the Association would approach foundations looking for grant opportunities and the Columbia Basin Trust as well.
It is a large amount of money, but you never know, he said.
“If you had talked to me before the meeting I wouldn’t have been as optimistic as I am today. I was so pleased with the response, it was so mature and proactive, it was really quite incredible. I was really proud of my community last night.”
If they do reach their fundraising target, a member of the community must register as a Free Miner and apply to have the Mineral Claim transferred from the current tenure holder to the Free Miner. The next step would be to register a Quit Claim on the parcel, which would relinquish the mining rights back to the Province.
At that point, the RDEK would apply for a “No Staking Reserve” from the Ministry of Energy and Mines, which would ensure no further claims are registered on the parcel. Once the parcel was designated as a Regional Park, it would no longer be eligible for mineral claims and would become an Area E amenity.
The Cherry Creek Falls area is currently within a permitted mineral claim tenure which allows for a rock quarry. Concern about the potential impact of mining activity has prompted the community to pursue the long term protection of the area through the creation of an Electoral Area E park.