The Penticton Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee (PRAC) is recommending increased regulations and rezoning for the popular recreation area known as Three Blind Mice.
At the regular meeting on Aug. 21, members of the committee heard that the over 300-acre property, 1400 Riddle Rd., is currently zoned as Forestry Grazing and its primary users are mountain bikers, hikers, disc golf players and grazing cattle. To align the city owned property with the newly introduced Official Community Plan, PRAC voted to recommend the are be rezoned by the city to Parks and Recreation (P2), as well as adjust the current licenses to use (LTUs) that have been issued to the Penticton & Area Cycling Association (PACA) and the Penticton Disc Golf Club.
Len Robson, manager of public works with the city, said by establishing a management plan for the property, the city can identify and protect its environmentally sensitive areas, ensure further trail work performed by user groups is done to a certain safety standard and would address existing issues such as lack of parking. It would cost approximately $100,000 to complete the management plan, which will come out of the 10 year capital parks plan budget, he added.
“A management plan allows for the community to provide their vision for this property, so we get to listen to what the community actually wants to have in that area,” Robson said. “The management plan would define how the park gets used, hours of operation, who can be in there and not be. And public safety would be in there.”
Doug Cox, a resident of the nearby FireSmart community of Riddle Road, first brought his concerns with the property to the attention of city council in May 2019, who directed the matter be brought before PRAC to consider. His presentation highlighted the fire risks the property currently poses with its many felled trees, as well as the manner and location of trails being built in the area by PACA.
Robson explained to committee members the re-designation would not mean the area would be regulated like a city park, so uses like off-leash dogs would be still permitted in the natural park area. He also said that while his staff would be responsible for the area, it does not mean they would be within the property daily like with other parks, nor would they be responsible for the addition of new trails.
Some of the recommended changes to the LTUs include the requirement of an environmental assessment if the groups want to add more trails or structures. In addition, they must consult with and gain approval from city staff before they add anymore trails or structures.
Robson noted if the city agrees to the committee’s recommendations, the management plan may take up to 10 years to be completed, though it is unlikely. This is because the funding would be coming out of the 10-year capital parks plan budget, and there is no designated time-frame for the management plan currently. One committee member suggested looking into funding opportunities through the RDOS for the management plan, which Robson said he will take under advisement.
The PRAC’s recommendations for Three Blind Mice recreation area will be presented before city council during one of the upcoming meetings.
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