Letters of support for Cominco Gardens continue to be received at Kimberley City Hall.
Kimberley City Council is looking at any and all ways to cut costs off their budget this year and in years to come. That means a hard look at everything, including all assets of the Kimberley Community Development Society, which operates the campground, the conference centre and Cominco Gardens.
No decision has been made to cut anything off the $70,000 Cominco Gardens budget as yet, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t concern in the community, and Council is hearing about it.
“Free speech is alive and well,” said Coun. Darryl Oakley on Monday evening, as Council received another six letters on Cominco Gardens. “It’s nice to hear from folks. It’s such a conundrum. How do we start making up our infrastructure deficit while keeping the status quo? It’s a tough juggling act.
“I don’t take it lightly. Word is out that we are trying to make efficiencies.”
Oakley said that his family had a memorial to his father at Cominco Gardens and he certainly recognized their place in many residents’ hearts.
“The key thing here is that the only thing we’ve done is express we’re looking at everything,” said Mayor Don McCormick. “That’s what a service review is about.
“We’ve made great progress behind the scenes, but we’re getting to the point of visibility now. We’re getting to the tough part. But we haven’t made any decisions. I full appreciate the heritage of Cominco Gardens. Were not wanting to destroy it.”
However there are some on Council that believe Cominco Gardens is one of those assets that shouldn’t be touched.
Coun. Albert Hoglund said that while he knew there were tough decisions ahead, he supported Cominco Gardens.
“I think there are sacred cows that people are passionate about,” said Coun. Bev Middlebrook. “This is one of them.”
McCormick reminded Council they weren’t debating the issue at this particular meeting. He also said that he appreciated the fact that some of the letters were offering suggestions as to how to keep Cominco Gardens with different funding models.
“I think that’s great,” he said.
From the letters
“People have had their ashes scattered at Cominco Gardens. There are memorials here to those that are gone. To a lot of people it would be the equivalent of getting rid of a graveyard.”
“Please give this decision more thought. Please do not flush more of Kimberley’s history down the drain.”
“I married a Cominco miner and we went to the park regularly. I think it would be a terrible thing to close it down and to do what? Build more condos? I don’t know your intentions but the garden should be left the way it has been all of my life, a beautiful place to visit when I, as well as thousands of others, come to town. What about all the people in Kimberley that enjoy the gardens? Once it is gone it cannot be replaced. If the town needs money that badly that it needs to develop that space why not just charge for events there? Not to charge a couple of people wandering around the grounds for an hour but for when you close it for things like weddings etc. I think everyone needs to put on their thinking caps in order to figure out where to find the revenue that the town seems to need for something.”
“Former residents are moving back to their home town and they do remember that the Gardens were an important part of their history. A visit to the Gardens can give them a return trip to their past as they view the dedicated areas of the Gardens and read the 686 names of family and friends who are remembered on the Friends of the Gardens memorial.
The Gardens are a place of beauty and peace for the many residents of the Pines and Garden View as they wander the paths and enjoy the flowers and rest areas.
During the summer months there are many buses from the Cranbrook care homes that tour the Gardens and the guests often stay for lunches in town.
The Gardens are one of the last remaining areas of our Kimberley heritage and an important part of the tourist industry of our city. I do hope that you, Mr. Mayo; and Council, consider these thoughts as you deliberate your options for the funding of the Cominco Gardens.