Mike Gildersleeve stands at the edge of a protest Saturday Sept. 6 to the creation of a natural park at the corner of Airport Way and Bonson Park.

Mike Gildersleeve stands at the edge of a protest Saturday Sept. 6 to the creation of a natural park at the corner of Airport Way and Bonson Park.

Penalty for scrapping Pitt park

Construction on the 35-hectare park was set to start in early September, but came to a halt after a protest by residents.

The City of Pitt Meadows will have to pay $55,000 to back out of a contract for a contentious park.

The 12 per cent penalty is still cheaper than the proposed project, which was tendered for $328,000 and had a total budget of $375,000. Construction on the 35-hectare park was set to start in early September, but came to a halt after a protest by residents.

“The contractor is understandably upset as he was ready to mobilize his crews and equipment more than two weeks ago,” director of parks and facilities David Boag said during a council meeting last week.

The natural park encountered stiff opposition from nearby residents soon after it was proposed last summer. They contend the city would have avoided the current mess had staff and council listened to their concerns.

The city’s original plans entailed extending an existing community garden, as well as enhancing wetland and wildlife habitat with a low-flow drainage channel, which would connect to Katzie Slough.

The park’s opponents had no issues with extending the community garden or adding a few trails to an area that’s already lush with trees and full of wildlife. But they opposed the construction of a “low flow” drainage channel and water feature.

Council initially approved the project in January with a vote that was split 4-3. Councillors Bruce Bell, Janis Elkerton and David Murray were against the project from the start. The recent vocal opposition prompted their colleagues to change their minds.

The city will move ahead with expanding the community garden.