Invermere hopes to secure parkland

The District of Invermere hopes to gain control of Lot 4616, a popular recreation site.

After 14 years of on-and-off debates and negotiations, the District of Invermere is asking the provincial government to put it in control of a large piece of crown land in the southern portion of town.

If the application for nominal rent tenure is accepted, the district won’t own Lot 4616, but will take control of it for a low rent — possible around a dollar a year — says district CAO Chris Prosser.

The province will likely require the district to make some improvements to trails in the area and protect existing archeological sites, but beyond that Prosser says the district’s plan is to “leave (the lot) the way it sits right now.”

The area is already popular with mountain bikers, hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts, and the district plans to encourage people to continue using Lot 4616 in similar ways.

“It makes a good park now, and it’ll make a good park in the future,” councillor Al Miller said, before voting to approach the province.

Lot 4616 has been on the district’s radar for more than a decade, though its possible uses have changed somewhat over that time.

At one point, when the district was in negotiations with local First Nations bands and the Integrated Land Management Bureau, the plan was to develop portions of the lot, while preserving some of the land for park use. However, interest in development waned with the economy.

Mayor Gerry Taft said the application for tenure is the “next best thing” to getting the land as a donation from the province.

“Within our boundaries there’s very little public land,” he added. “In our minds it’s been very important to preserve this piece.”

Once the application is submitted, it’s expected to take six months for the province to do the necessary consultations and sign off on the plan.