The owners of a parcel of land in Swift Current are surprised by the City of Swift Current’s decision to decline an offer of land for the development of a park.
The City did not accept the offer by John and Pat Bardahl of Bardahl Holdings Ltd. due to cost considerations, which was a shock to them.
“We understand that things are tough right now, especially with the virus and everything,” John Bardahl told the Prairie Post. “We just thought it was a nice gesture to try to give good news to the people that have had nothing but bad news for three months and it was like a slap in the face to us when you gift them land and they say no thank you, we don't want a million dollars worth of land. It's hard to believe. I just can't believe that they did, but they did. So we just felt the public should be aware of it.”
Bardahl Holdings Ltd. owns four lots in the northeast area of the city. The land is located just across the road from the Cypress Regional Hospital in an area bordered by Adams Street, the commercial area that contains the Canadian Tire, Mark’s Work Wearhouse and Sportchek stores, and the Trans-Canada Highway.
Three of the lots, each 1.3 acres in size, are located directly along Adams Street. The fourth lot of 8.12 acres is situated below these lots, and it borders on the commercial area to the west and on City-owned land to the east.
The Bardahls decided to donate their large piece of land to the City for use as a park. They made the offer to the City in a letter dated April 16, in which they provided details and conditions with regard to their proposed gift.
Their offer was subject to three conditions. The entire piece of land must be used to create a park, the land or any portion of it can never be sold for any other use, and the park development must start within three years.
“We felt it wasn't fair for us to say you have to start the park right away, because it's budgeting, it does cost money to build a park, even if you get the land gifted to you,” he explained. “So we thought three years, but if they came back and said four years, we would have no issues with that at all. We just don't want it to sit idle for 20 years and no park gets developed for the residents of the city.”
Bardahl Holdings is responsible for paying 46 per cent of the cost of services installed along Adams Street, but their letter indicated they wanted that amount to be deducted from their gift. The appraised value of the land is $1,396,000 and after the deduction of $314,724 owed for services, the net value of the gift will be $1,081,276.
The Bardahls felt this still represents a significant donation, but on May 27 they received a letter from the City that declined their offer. John said it is a disappointment, because their land could have been added to the adjacent City land, which is in any case earmarked for development as a park. The larger park area could have been used by residents, visitors and hospital staff. This park would also be visible to west bound highway traffic approaching the city.
“That's why we thought we'll enhance it by giving them extra land, and they just said no, we don't have money for a park,” he mentioned.
Tim Marcus, the City of Swift Current’s chief administrative officer, confirmed the offer was declined for financial reasons. It will result in a loss of money due for services installed and there will be the cost of developing such a large area as a park.
In this instance, the development of the area as a park will be even more costly, because the land is located below the 1:100 flood level.
“So it would have to be brought up, and park development is fairly pricey,” he said. “We normally collect levies to develop parks from property as it's being developed. However, the area where this is, we didn't have levies in place at the time. So it would cost the City a fair amount to develop eight acres as a park, plus we'll have to maintain it. Eight acres is a significant amount of park space, even if it's just grass you're cutting twice a week.”
The City’s intention is to use their piece of land next to the Swift Current Creek for a future park when the Chinook Parkway is expanded to link the northeast part of the city to the existing walking path. However, the addition of the 8.12 acres offered by the Bardahls will create a total park area of about 12 acres, which will be too large for that area.
“You would have a 12-acre park in the middle of a commercial development,” Marcus said. “We don't normally put parks in commercial developments. A park along the greenspace on the creek as part of the pathway isn't that bad, but a park of that size would be as big as Riverside Park or pretty close to it and we just don't need the greenspace or the additional cost of hiring extra staff to maintain it.”