In January of 2003, the CSRD started work on preparing a series of Parks Plans for each Electoral Area. These plans identify park needs, analyze local characteristics and issues that could affect park acquisition and development, identify opportunities for expansion or creation of new parks, and provide strategic direction for the development of the area's park resources and facilities over a 20 year planning horizon.
The community parks function is exercised under the authority of a bylaw establishing the service. CSRD Bylaw No. 5209, adopted in 1996, established a community parks service in all Electoral Areas. The purpose of a community park is to serve the recreational needs of a community and provide a variety of informal, passive and active recreational opportunities. The focus in the past was usually limited to community boundaries and activities that met the immediate recreation needs of the population of the community such as playgrounds and sports fields. Clearly, the expressed needs of CSRD communities identified in the current parks planning process go far beyond this limited scope and include a strong desire for waterfront access (swimming beaches and boat launches), trail opportunities, and natural and cultural heritage conservation.
The CSRD participates in the acquisition, development, operation, and maintenance of community parks, including parks dedicated by subdivision. When the CSRD holds land for community park purposes, the CSRD Board is not obligated to develop, operate or maintain it as a community park. After public approval, the Board may dispose of any portion of a community park in exchange for other lands suitable for community parks purposes. The Board may accept all or part of the proceeds of the disposal in monies, which must be put into a reserve account established for the purpose of funding future park land acquisition. Lands may also be acquired for parks purposes by purchase, donation, or by grant, lease or license of occupation from the provincial government.
In order to accomplish the goals of the Parks Plans, the Regional District has to acquire and operate parks both on dedicated parkland it already owns, and on land it does not own. The Regional District currently owns relatively few small areas within each Electoral Area that are dedicated as parkland. Under Section 176 of the Local Government Act, Regional Districts possess broad corporate powers to acquire, hold, manage and dispose of land, improvements, personal property or other property, and any interest or right in or with respect to that property.
The majority of candidate parks identified in the Parks Plans occur on land that is not owned by the CSRD, for example, Ministry of Transportation (MoT) accesses to various lakes. Acquiring selected sites for development as community parks requires a License of Occupation with MoT permitting CSRD to construct facilities and operate them for park and recreation purposes, or with Ministry of Agriculture & Lands (Integrated Land Management Bureau). Other sites may be under the jurisdiction of other provincial agencies and long term licenses or lease will need to be negotiated with them in a similar fashion.
In adopting the Parks Plans in each Electoral Area, the CSRD is implementing a Community Parks function rather than the Regional Parks function. This is pertinent due to the historic difference in funding mechanisms for these two functions. Regional parks, because of their importance to the region including the municipalities within them, are typically funded by both regional and municipal governments. Community parks, which primarily serve the local communities, are usually funded solely by the Regional District because the (unincorporated) communities within them have no powers of taxation to support services such as community parks.
Ultimately, a number of the parks identified in the Parks Plans could become regional parks if the CSRD chooses to implement this service. The others would remain as community parks. As time progresses, new parks and trails may be added to the Parks Plans on the basis of further investigation and some may be dropped due to feasibility.
Tax revenues are the current source of base funding for community parks. Other sources may be used at some point to enhance facilities or services for specific purposes (e.g. day use fees, donations, corporate sponsorship). These sources would have to be studied and recommended by Community Parks and Recreation Advisory Commissions and be approved by the CSRD Board of Directors on a case by case basis. Existing CSRD Bylaw No. 5209, adopted in 1996, permits a maximum levy of $0.30 per $1,000 on assessed property values.